Most parents are unwilling to complain against errant schools

Prajakta Joshi
Monday, 1 April 2019

“We have hardly received three to four complaints last year, where the schools asked parents to pay extra. We carried out the necessary investigation there,” the official at Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) told Sakal Times when asked about the number of complaints he received last year.

Pune: The issue of schools looting the parents of children seeking admission under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act has been persistent. However, only a handful of parents come forward to complain, as most of them are afraid of risking their child’s future.

“We have hardly received three to four complaints last year, where the schools asked parents to pay extra. We carried out the necessary investigation there,” the official at Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) told Sakal Times when asked about the number of complaints he received last year.

The education officers at the Zilla Parishad (ZP) and municipal corporation level are responsible for taking notice of RTE parents’ issues. However, very few of the incidents are actually reported.
“Around 40 per cent of the children whom we help with the RTE application and admission process face this issue,” said Shraddha Deo, CEO, Sneh Foundation. The NGO supports RTE parents throughout the process.

“They are mostly scared. There have been so many times when they are afraid even to tell us about it. Even if there has to be a complaint, they do not want their names to be disclosed. It gets difficult to pursue the issue further,” Deo added.

Every year, parents, more than double the number of seats, apply under RTE in Pune district. Most of these applications are for the schools in the city and its fringe areas.

Thus, when a child gets selected, the parents are ready to do almost anything, to retain it. Thus the undue demands by the schools are dealt with in a hush-hush manner.

“Some education officers too, are to be blamed for it. They don’t always support like how they should,” RTE activist Mukund Kirdat of AAP Palak Union said.

He added, “I have seen cases where the education officers themselves have discouraged parents from filing complaints. They have been told it’s okay if the school asks them to pay a few thousand when the actual fees for the regular students are so high. Along with parents, awareness is necessary for officers too.” Sunil Kurhade, Education Officer, Pune ZP said if a parent registers such a complaint, the investigation begins against the school. “We issue show-cause notice against the school. If found guilty, disciplinary action is taken against the school. There are fines too,” he added.

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