RTE: Parents' lifestyle comes under officials' scanner

However, sources told DNA that during inspection by schools, most of the houses had ACs, LCD TV, etc., which triggered the notices

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RTE: Parents' lifestyle comes under officials' scanner

An air-conditioner installed in the house, or a recent pay hike can make all the difference in your child's education under the Right to Education (RTE), as some parents recently discovered when their lifestyles came under the officials' scanner.

Last week, hundreds of parents received notices to attend a hearing with their submission on Monday, asking them to either withdraw their ward or pay regular fees. Consider this. One of the parents who approached the RTE Resource Centre helpline of the IIM, Ahmedabad, said that the officials relied on a heavy electricity bill Rs 4,000 to draw the conclusion, but they didn't consider that the bill was the collected sum for six families living in the chawl.

"These are some of the loopholes," an RTERC member who attended the hearing said. He added, "Close to 1,500 parents were called by the District Education Officer, Ahmedabad, asking them to withdraw their child's admission.

They should have verified, before granting admissions. Now, the students have been in school for two months, so it is really unfair to ask them to withdraw now." However, sources told DNA that during inspection by schools, most of the houses had ACs, LCD TV, etc., which triggered the notices. The District Primary Education Office added that they had called in parents of 85 children, suspected to have violated the norms.

Mahesh Mehta, DPEO, said, "We finished the entire process a week ago and held a hearing for the parents found violating the norms. Nearly 17 of them have withdrawn admissions voluntarily and we are in the process of cancelling 20 more admissions."

Meanwhile, Ghanshyam Prajapati, a helper in a company with an income of R8,000 a month received a letter on September 6, asking him to appear for the Monday hearing. "I took a leave to appear for the hearing. However, when my turn finally came three hours later, they told me that the house I lived in was owned by my father. When I tried to argue (he shares the home with his siblings), they threatened to initiate a police inquiry. They then offered help to accommodate my child in another school if I withdraw the admission, or agreed to pay regular fees. It will be unfair to him if we change the school now," Prajapati said.

For Bipinbhai Sagathiya, a resident of Shahwadi and a sweeper with AMC, a hike in salary did not turn the tide. He said, "When I filled the form under RTE, my salary was R5,000 per month, but then the government hiked our fixed wage to R16,224. The officials have asked me to withdraw the admission, but understanding the circumstances, I have cancelled the admission and will pay regular fees."

When contacted, Navneet Mehta, District Education Officer and Sunaina Tomar, Principal Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, remained unavailable for comment. However, the figure of 1500 could not be confirmed by the authorities

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