Government Extends Deadline Amid Drop in Private School Applications

The extension of the application deadline by the state government underscores efforts to address the concerning decline in applications for reserved seats in private schools

Government Extends Deadline Amid Drop in Private School Applications

In response to a significant decrease in applications from parents in disadvantaged backgrounds, the state government has announced an extension of the deadline for applying to reserved seats in private schools. Initially slated for a 15-day window from April 16-30, the deadline has now been prolonged until May 10. This decision comes as authorities aim to address the concerning trend of low participation in the application process.

Sharp Decline in Registrations

The alarming drop in applications has raised eyebrows, with only 62,000 parents registering on the admission portal thus far, compared to a staggering 3.64 lakh applications received during the previous year. Such numbers underscore a stark disparity, with most districts struggling to surpass even 1,000 applications. The situation is particularly acute in Mumbai, where only approximately 2,000 parents have entered the fray. The subdued response is attributed in part to the state government's exclusion of private schools near government-supported ones, which limits options for parents during the application process.

Rule Changes Spark Concerns

Under the provisions of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, a quarter of seats in private unaided schools are reserved for economically weaker and disadvantaged students. These students receive education free of cost, with the government reimbursing their tuition fees to schools. However, recent changes in regulations have exempted private unaided schools within a 1km radius of government and aided schools from this requirement. Consequently, parents seeking admission for their children are now first considered for seats in nearby government and aided schools before private unaided ones. Such alterations have sparked concerns among advocacy groups and education experts regarding equitable access to quality education for all socio-economic groups.

Shift in Parental Preferences

Meanwhile, in Pune, applications for RTE admissions for the upcoming 2024-25 academic year have commenced, with a looming deadline set for April 30. Despite the promise of free and compulsory education, only 33,000 applications have been received within the initial eight days. This underwhelming response signals a growing inclination among parents towards self-financed English-medium schools over government ones. Traditionally, RTE admissions were highly sought after, offering thousands of seats annually in English-medium schools. However, this year's trend reflects a notable shift in parental priorities, despite ongoing concerns about the quality and facilities of government schools.

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