In order to strengthen compliance with the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the Chandigarh education department will convene a meeting with representatives from all private schools to discuss the necessity of admissions under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota for the upcoming 2024-25 academic session.
According to Harsuhinderpal Singh Brar, the director of school education in Chandigarh, the meeting aims to firmly demonstrate that all schools, with only a few exceptions, are covered by the RTE Act. Brar stressed that there will be no place for misunderstanding or departure regarding EWS admissions in the upcoming academic session.
According to sources, the majority of schools, with the exception of ten, have already provided the UT education department with information about EWS admissions. These schools are expected to participate in the centralized admissions process, though it is unclear whether these are the same ten schools that did not participate in the previous academic year.
While the schedule for general admissions has been released, the schedule for EWS admissions is expected to be delayed due to ongoing proceedings in the Punjab and Haryana high court. The court has ordered Chandigarh schools to provide audited accounts demonstrating fee collections, particularly from students aged six to fourteen, with the next hearing scheduled for December 7.
The court’s directives stem from a plea filed by the Independent Schools’ Association (ISA), challenging UT’s instructions mandating EWS admissions. HS Mamik, the president of ISA, highlighted concerns that private schools were only being reimbursed for 10% of EWS seats instead of the stipulated 15%, adversely affecting the functioning of these institutions.
The education department is also considering on punitive actions against schools that did not engage in the centralised EWS admissions for the 2023-24 session. Eight out of 20 minority schools reportedly abstained from the draw of lots, requiring personal hearings and ongoing efforts to resolve the situation.
In the face of legal complications, the education department has taken attempts to enforce quota adherence, while private schools face financial and operational challenges as a result of reimbursement policy disparities. The upcoming meeting intends to clarify the EWS admission procedure and reinforce the RTE Act’s commitment to inclusive education.