What is the right to free and compulsory education?
The Right of Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 grants every child of the age of six to 14 the right to have free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education.
Who is eligible for free and compulsory education under the RTE ACT?
Any child between the ages of 6 to 14 years whose parent’s or guardian’s annual income is less than Rs 3.5 lakh per annum is eligible to apply under the RTE Act.
Whether children from economically weak or disadvantaged section of the society can be admitted to a private school?
Yes. Parents residing in a particular ward can seek admission to their children in any of the government schools, private aided or unaided RTE quota schools (excluding those with minority educational institutions status) in their ward or in the adjacent wards. In private unaided schools, the RTE quota is limited to 25 % of the total strength of a classroom. Note that, as per a 2019 decision of the Karnataka High Court, admission into private unaided schools will be allowed only if one’s neighbourhood lacks aided private or government schools.
What are the categories available under the RTE quota?
There are two categories – disadvantaged groups and weaker section.
A “child belonging to disadvantaged groups” refers to “a child belonging to the Scheduled Caste, the Scheduled Tribe, the socially and educationally backward class or such other group having disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economic, geographical, linguistic, gender or such other fact, as may be specified by the appropriate Government, by notification” (RTE Act, 2009, Section 2, Clause (d)).
A child belonging to “weaker section” refers to “a child belonging to such parent or guardian whose annual income is lower than the minimum limit specified by the appropriate Government, by notification” (RTE Act, 2009, Section 2, Clause (e)).
How is the RTE quota divided between these various categories?
The RTE Act mandates every unaided school (except those with minority institution tag) to allocate at least 25 % of the strength of the entry class for the RTE quota. Of 25 per cent of the seats, 7.5 % of seats are reserved for children belonging to Scheduled Caste, 1.5 % for children belonging to Scheduled Tribe. The remaining 16 % of seats are provided to children belonging to other categories. If the SC & ST quota remains unfilled, then it will be added to the remaining categories of children belonging to disadvantaged groups and vice versa.
Whether the child is guaranteed admission in a neighborhood school?
If schools run by the Government or aided by the Government are available in the neighbourhood, parents of children entitled for admission to the schools under the RTE Act shall be entitled to seek admission in the said schools.
What is considered as ‘neighborhood’ in Bangalore rural and urban area?
The RTE Act is based on the concept of neighbourhood schooling. The neighbourhood school concept relates to availability of a school within safe and accessible distance from the place where a child lives. The Karnataka RTE Rules, 2012 defines the limits of neighbourhood schools as 1 km walking distance from the habitation of a child at the primary level (class 1 to 5), within 3 km walking distance for upper primary level (class 6 and 7) and within 5 km walking distance for children in class 8. However, in places with difficult terrain, risk of landslides, floods etc, small hamlets or habitations where no school exists, this limit may be reduced by the local authority.
In urban areas such as Bangalore where local authorities are city corporations, the municipal ward is considered as a neighbourhood. Distance of 1 km will not apply as a limit. Since 2017, a parent can apply for any number of schools (private aided or unaided) in the ward where they reside as well as to the schools in adjacent ward. However, during the seat allocation, preference is given to children residing in the same ward. Seats will be allocated to children from neighbouring wards, only if there are excess seats.
How can I view the list of schools in my neighborhood?
The Department of Public Instructions has published the list of neighbourhood schools in every pincode. You can access it here: [http://126.96.36.199/RTE2017Demo/(S(v5lcuu114vb40gifokxp3iuu))/RTE2015/RTElegibility.aspx] by entering the pincode of your area.
Who can seek admission to unaided private school under the RTE Act?
A child whose parent’s or guardian’s annual income is less than Rs. 3.5 lakh per annum is eligible to apply under the RTE Act, but will be considered for admission only if there are no government or government aided schools in the neighbourhood.
Whether one can seek admission in a school with minority institution tag?
No, one cannot seek admission in an institution with minority educational status under the RTE Act.
Whether there is any limit on the number of schools to which the eligible child can apply?
No, the child can apply to any number of schools in the neighborhood, in the order of preference. Note that till 2016, a child was allowed to apply to only 5 schools, but the Department of Public Instructions has removed the upper limit in Karnataka.
Whether there is any preference given in seat allocation by the school?
Children in the categories of orphan, HIV infected child, transgender, child with special needs, migrant and street child residing in the neighborhood shall be given admission directly under the RTE quota before commencement of the lottery process. While considering the applications of children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections, the applications of children whose parents’ or guardian’s annual income is equal to or less than Rs. 1 lakh will be given preference. Any vacancies in the SC quota will be filled from among children belonging to ST quota and vice versa.
What is the age criteria for admitting the child in Lower Kindergarten (LKG) in Karnataka?
A child in the age group of 3 years, 10 months to 4 years, 10 months is eligible to be admitted to LKG.
What is the age criteria for admitting the child in elementary school in Karnataka?
A child in the age group of 5 years, 10 months to 6 years, 10 months is eligible to be admitted in Class I.
Whether there is any fee to be paid for the admitted child?
No, there is no fee or donation to be paid to the school for admission of the child, regardless of the cost of tuition or category of the school. The state government will reimburse a fixed amount of fee in instalments to respective schools upon submission of admission records.
Whether the school can charge any fees for extra services such as uniform, textbooks, etc.?
After the child is admitted to the school, the child must receive a school uniform without any charge by the school. However, the school may charge the child for provision of additional facilities such as stationery, notebooks or canteen facilities.
Whether the government will reimburse the school directly for the expenditure incurred by the school?
Yes. The parent or guardian does not have to pay the school tuition for the child at any point.
Whether the child is entitled to study only till he/she attains 14 years of age?
This case is entirely dependent on a child. In theory, the child can be asked to leave when he turns 14 years of age if he meets all educational markers. If not, the school must ensure that the student is at the level of his peers before providing him with certification.
What is the procedure for admissions to schools under the RTE quota?
All applications must be filed online through the Department of Education’s website. The Department may make arrangements at the offices of Block Education Officers, Bangalore One Centres and Atal Janasnehi Kendras for parents to file online application. This apart, parents can also submit online application in cyber cafes. The RTE Students and Parents Association too has set up free online application centres in Bangalore. There are 34 online centres operated by the Parents Association in Bangalore. Apart from filling the application form, the applicant should keep these documents ready for submission and verification:
Identity proof of parents – Driver’s license, voter IDs, Aadhar card, ration card, birth certificates, and passports.
Identity proof of the child – Parents must furnish any and all government documents of the children including but not limited to a birth certificate, passport, and Aadhar card.
Income certificate from the Revenue Department of India.
Special Needs certificates, if applicable. This will be provided by the Department of Health.
In case of a street child or a child of a migrant worker, an affidavit must be produced that is issued from the Labor Department, Department of Education, and Department of Women & Child Development.
Passport sized photographs of the child.
If the child is an orphan, the death certificate of both parents must be produced.
Once the deadline for submitting application expires, the Department will examine the applications and SMSs will be sent to parents if there are errors in applications. They shall rectify the errors online or through the jurisdictional Block Education Officer before the prescribed date. After this stage, the list of eligible candidates will be generated online.
Can one file objections to the list of eligible students published by the Department?
Yes, the mode and time limit for the filing of objections will be intimated on its website. The Department provides a time frame for filing objections. If the objection submitted is valid, the Department will make the correction and publish the same on the website. Parents can visit this link [http://188.8.131.52/RTE2017Demo/(S(zy0mo5ykzos25bdwmsirqlse))/RTE2017/CompGriev_New.aspx] and file a complaint.
What is the method of selection of eligible children for admission?
After correction of errors in the applications, the next procedure is selecting children through a lottery system. This happens because the number of applications usually exceeds the number of seats available. The lottery will take place online in multiple rounds, and lists of selected students will be uploaded on the Department of Education’s website. Admissions will begin after the Third Round of Seat Allotment.
Where can interested parents file online applications in Bangalore?
The Department of Primary and Secondary Education calls for applications in March every year. The applications must be filed at http://www.schooleducation.kar.nic.in/pryedn/rteadmissions.html.
Is income certificate required for filing the application?
Yes, it is mandatory unless the parents belong to SC/ST or Category I communities and are seeing admission under SC/ST quota.
Is birth certificate of the child mandatory as proof of child’s age?
Yes, parents need to submit birth certificate of the child. Wherever a birth certificate is not available, any of the following documents will be deemed to be the proof of age of the child for the purpose of admission in schools:
Record given by anganwadi worker; or
Hospital / Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife register record; or
A self- attested affidavit for the age of the child, by the parent or guardian.
Is caste certificate required for filing the application?
It is mandatory if the child is seeking admission under SC/ST quota.
What is proof of residence in filing the application?
To establish place of residence, parents need to furnish either AADHAAR card or AADHAAR enrollment acknowledgement slip or detail of the Election Photo Identity Card only. The details of these documents must be provided in the online form. No parent will be asked to upload copies of these documents.
What is the timeline of the application process?
The application can take anywhere between 1 – 3 months, due to rounds of seat allocation and any delays.
Is it mandatory for the child and parents availing RTE quota to have AADHAAR number?
Yes, State government has made it mandatory for both the child and parents seeking admission to have enrolled under AADHAAR. Parents have to provide AADHAAR details of the child as well as one parent while filing online application. The Department of Education will verify the Aadhaar number and biometric information with UIDAI. This is aimed to reduce duplication of applications.
What if there are errors in the application? Can the application be rejected on this ground?
Yes, errors in the application is a valid ground for rejection.
Whether any school, government or private, can detain (fail) or expel any child at the elementary level?
No school, governmental or private, can detain (fail) or expel any child at the elementary stage. No student can be removed from school on the ground that he/she has failed a class.
Whether one can report a school for violation of the RTE Act?
Yes, the Department of Education now has an online complaint system.
Who should I contact for assistance in admission procedure under RTE in Karnataka?
The RTE Students and Parents Association has opened a helpline for parents seeking seats under RTE in Karnataka. You may reach out to them at 7022422495.
I did not get admission via RTE quota. What alternative do I have?
Navodaya schools or state schools are schools exempted from the provisions of the RTE Act, and do not require you to produce certificates for your child’s admission. 75% of seats in these schools are reserved for rural children, and they have reservations for girl children and SC/ST children. Children who cannot submit these certificates or never had them are eligible to apply to these schools. However, the procedure for admission differs in this case and one has to contact the local government offices for enquiries.
This post was authored by Sushmita and Anushka, and proofread by Anushya R, students of the National Law School of India University