The RTE roundtable organized on 12 th November, 2014, was a unique and first of its kind initiative. It allowed various stakeholders such as private schools, civil societies, educationists and government officials to deliberate on various aspects of RTE Section 12. This section stipulates that all private schools in India reserve 25% of their seats at class I or pre-primary level for students from Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Disadvantaged Groups (DG), with the government reimbursing them an amount equal to the private school fees or the per-child spending in Govt. Schools (whichever is lower). This provision is applicable till class 8.
RATIONALE BEHIND ROUND TABLE
While RTE Clause 12 has the potential to improve both equity and efficiency in school education in India, the implementation had been highly haphazard across states, whereas a much more systematic approach was needed for this Clause to deliver its full potential. Uttar Pradesh had been amongst the most laggard state when it came to the implementation of RTE clause. As per official records, only 54 out of 6,00,000 potential seats were filled in 2014. BAF under Samina’s leadership created a sense of urgency and engaged the media to highlight the dismal status of RTE in UP. The issue was brought to notice to the state government and triggered multiple rounds of discussions and meetings. Samina held a roundtable with various stakeholders to prepare a recommendation document that addressed potential concerns and challenges faced by the government as well as private schools in its implementation. The current GOs were discussed and the changes that needed to be implemented were decided upon.
- To arrive at recommendations for amendment in the existing GO dated 03 Dec 2012
- To identify the potential challenges based on the discussions with various stakeholders and learning from other states and civil societies
- To sketch out role of civil societies and empanel organizations and thought leaders to advocate for policy amendment and facilitate its implementation on ground
- To prepare an implementation and a detailed process document clearly elaborating the implementation plan for RTE Section 12 that allows controlling for factors that may pose as challenges in its implementation
- Bharat Abhyudaya Foundation
- Centre For Civil Society
- Central Square Foundation
- Accountability Initiative
- IIM Ahmadabad
- City Montessori School
- Budget Private School (NISA)
- Nehru Yuva Kendra, KGBPV
- OXFAM, SCORE
- LOK MITRA, SCORE
- Other Government Officials
The round table was intended to discuss RTE Section 12 while focusing on some key issues that were either related to the proper administration and implementation of the act or the challenges that would arise in its effective implementation. The conversations in the Conference were focused on the key theme of implementing Section 12.1.C in Uttar Pradesh.
It is important to understand the break-up of current reimbursement amount ₹ 450/-.
Solution: The method of calculating the reimbursement amount needs to be defined in consultation with experts to avoid future challenges/conflicts as seen in other states.
Private Schools exceeding 25% Reservations:
This has happened in states like Rajasthan. However, there is fiscal provision in SSA towards implementation of Section 12(1)(C).
Solution: It is okay for schools to exceed 25% reservations.
New Private Schools opening up to avail benefits of reimbursements under 25%:
This is not observed in other states so far (Rajasthan, Maharashtra etc.). Parents will exercise their choice while selecting Schools. Current recognition also puts a check on number of schools opened in state.
Solution: Build a strong real time database of all existing and new schools in state and make it accessible to public (e.g. Delhi)
Schools inflating their fees to get benefits of reimbursement amount:
This is likely to happen in case the reimbursement amount is significantly higher than the fees charged by private schools in the state. Generally, parents not availing 25% reservations will play a role in controlling hike in school fees.
Solution: Carry out a survey of fees charged by private schools. Validate the data through cross checking, triangulation.
Fees Reimbursement Process:
Delays in fees reimbursement are happening in various states
Solution: Introducing innovative models such as School vouchers to bring efficiency in reimbursement process (with potential provision for penalties).
Effective Implementation of RTE:
General mismatch between regulation of unaided Private Schools and facilitation
Solution: Govt. may want to consider some regulatory initiatives from the point of view of partnering with private on government mission
- 1. Presented the recommendations to the government and a detailed implementation plan on the basis of the agreed recommendations
- 2. Finalized the implementation plan with GoUP
- 3. Started implementation on ground