In the recent times, there have been numerous instances when flaws emerged in the admission process of schools across the Delhi-NCR. And in such a scenario, it becomes increasingly important as a parent to stay updated about the prevalent norms in the education sector.
When it comes to school admissions, one such norm established by the government is the EWS QUOTA which has now become a major area of concern. We, at INSTICHOOSE look closely at the pertaining problem and try to answer the following questions which might arise in your mind-
WHAT IS THE QUOTA?
EWS (Economically Weaker Section) includes a person whose annual family income is below 1 lakh per annum, from all sources and the disadvantaged category includes SC, ST, OBC, and children with special needs. The Delhi government had passed an order in 2011 to ensure free and compulsory education for EWS and the disadvantaged group. Several schools in Delhi-NCR were allotted free/subsidised land to construct schools, on the promise that these schools would reserve 25% of total seats for EWS.
WHY WAS THERE A NEED?
This initiative opened up several opportunities for students belonging to the economically weaker sections of the society. It is a known fact that education has become a costly affair and such a provision proved to be a miracle for those who couldnt otherwise afford the expensive education provided at reputed private schools. It ensured that even such children would get a chance to join the mainstream and avail quality education which would prove to be instrumental in their all round development. The government had thus put in its best efforts to publicize the quota.
But the sad reality is that despite all this, only 4% of EWS parents are aware of this provision. And only half of these parents manage to find the right channel to navigate through the bureaucracy. Even if they manage to apply, their applications are rejected stating trivial reasons (“admissions closed”,” no vacancy”).
WHERE DOES THE PROBLEM ARISE?
Moreover, there was a tremendous sense of reluctance and resentment by the private schools to admit EWS students. The private schools would have to bear the cost of tuition and provide free books, study material and uniforms etc. The situation is such that the schools have been constantly fighting with the government on the compensation amount, which does not cover the expenses incurred by the schools. The EWS parents too complain of several tertiary or “hidden costs” which come along in the form of school picnics, photographs, computer classes, etc. Also, the students who come from a varied socio-economic background feel the pressure to adjust and bond with their classmates. The situation for the class teachers is not easy as well, they find it hard to handle and streamline these kids. As English is the only medium of instruction in private schools, EWS children who were taught in Hindi find it increasingly difficult to cope with the competitive atmosphere.
WHAT ARE THE MALPRACTICES INVOLVED?
Despite the efforts the government, many fake admissions occur under this quota. The scam is so widespread that nearly 70% of the admissions under EWS quota are fraudulent. Further investigations reveal the involvement of several prominent school principals, sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) office authorities, and many prosperous businessmen. Racketeers target rich parents who wish to secure admission into the leading private schools. The touts fabricate and tamper with the information on the required documents i.e birth certificate, residential proof, income proof, disadvantaged category proof etc. Once the admission is secured, parents are asked to submit an affidavit with the “corrected details” to the school authorities. Several parents who were involved claimed they had no idea of the modus operandi.
And amidst all this, only the financially disadvantaged kid is robbed off the opportunity of obtaining decent education.
WHAT PREVENTIVE MEASURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN?
A Delhi court had ordered the crime branch to verify the documents submitted for admission under EWS category. The investigating officials sent out notifications to several schools requesting details. But only a few responded, providing information of the fake documents and admission. Some even went to the extent of expelling such students.
In an order issued in 2014, it was established that even playschools and crèches will have to reserve 25% of the seats for such kids. Also, they would not conduct interviews or test for admission. If the number of applications exceed the availability of seats, a lottery will have to be drawn.
At last, we can only say that the schools as well as the authorities need to look dig deeper into the matter and ensure that this provision duly benefits the disadvantaged. About 150,000 students vie for 125,000 nursery seats in Delhi-NCR every year. And the fight is extremely tough to get through the top 100 of 1300 premium institutions.
Where on one hand there is a dire need for improvement in the quality of education provided at government schools,on the other, it is equally significant to ensure that private schools fulfil their true mission of providing the best education to all sorts of students from varied socio - economic backgrounds. Because, education that isn't INCLUSIVE, can never be HOLISTIC!
Stay tuned to our Facebook Page for more such updates on the upcoming admission season!
You can even write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in case of any queries