The number of RTE quota seats filled stand at 46,900 while the total number of seats in the Maharashtra is as high as 2.44 lacs. Faced with a deadlock, or at least a bottleneck, there are suggestions coming in from various quarters, notably from the schools themselves.
The reasons for the sustained vacancies include the reluctance of parents to settle for a not-preferred school in the face of the non-availability of the seats in the preferred school. Schools have opined that in this case the RTE seats must be opened for the general public.
According to the existing rule, 25 percent of the total seats in the school are reserved for the RTE quota children and are non-transferable to the general pool even if they remain vacant.
The rationale for this exclusionary rule is said to be that the schools might keep the seats vacant by design thus enabling themselves to argue for the transfer of vacant seats to the general pool. It is also pointed out that a call on the transfer of seats cannot be taken by the state government as RTE is a fundamental right and a parliamentary legislation will be required for amendment in the existing law.
For schools however, vacant seats translate into drain of revenue and that has been a cause of persistent concern. A representative of Independent English School Association makes it plain when he says that the government ends up paying for the occupied seats and the vacant seats remain unaccounted for which is a liability in terms of revenue. In addition to that, the vacant seats are a constant wastage of resources as they are set to remain vacant as the students graduate to higher classes from standard 1.
What it comes to is that the paying students end up paying for the additional costs that is incurred because of the vacant seats. It is also stated that the reimbursement paid to the schools by the government is not at par with the actual fees charged by the schools in the first place and when there is the liability of vacant seats the losses become unrecoverable.
The issue is not entirely summed up until the delay in the reimbursement is mentioned. It is often said that the delay in the payment of compensation by the government to the schools has become a part of legend. The aforementioned IESA has taken the state government to the court over this. It must be added that the woes do not end after the payment is released as there is bureaucratic red tape to contend with before the money is received by the intended schools.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.