Mumbai: To tackle the issue of vacant seats, the civic education department will conduct only one lottery round for admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act this year.
The admission process will begin on February 11 while the lottery round will be conducted on March 11 and 12. Following this, waiting lists will be declared, thus allotting seats to students.
Last year, despite conducting four admission rounds, over 4,000 of the total 8,374 seats left vacant. Mahesh Palkar, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) education officer, said, "We managed to secure admissions of over 3,500 students last year in 347 private unaided schools.
This year, we will conduct only one lottery round and allot seats to students in the waiting lists." Under the RTE Act, students of families with low financial income can secure admissions and study for free till Class 8 in private unaided schools.
Under the RTE admissions, 25 per cent seats are reserved for students who can apply online by submitting a proof of their financial income, along with other documents.
The process is managed by the BMC education department where lottery rounds are conducted and seats are allotted to students. Unlike last year, this time around, only one round will be conducted.
Palkar asked parents to benefit from the RTE admissions. Palkar said, "RTE is the only opportunity through which students of economically-weaker section can avail free education in a private unaided school.
We have vacant seats every year, which means parents are not taking the the benefit. The fees of private unaided schools are high, but through RTE, students can study for free."
Parents claimed students are allotted seats in schools far from their houses, deterring them from enrolling their children. Jaya Madhukaran, a parent, said, "We live in a slum settlement and we cannot afford to send our children to schools which are very far. Instead, we enrol them in the nearby BMC school that provides free education."
Civic education authorities revealed that parents pick and choose a school which leave vacant seats in certain schools. Palkar said, "We have some schools with vacant seats because parents do not want to enrol their children in those schools. On the other hand, we have some schools where number of applicants exceeds."
The allotment of seats under the RTE admissions will begin on April 13. Schools have to update the number of vacant seats on the government portal.