The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE Act, 2009) mandates all private unaided non-minority schools in the country to reserve at least 25% of their seats in the entry level for economically weaker sections (EWS) and socially disadvantaged (DG) groups. If successfully implemented, this provision of RTE has the potential to impact approximately 2 crore children in next 8-10 years .
Policy That Matters
RTE Section 12(1)(c) is one of the world’s largest programme for public funding and private provision in education. This policy helps the school system by:
1. Making schooling more inclusive. Evidence suggests that inclusive education makes children more pro-social and generous, without affecting their academic outcomes
2. Providing school choice to the disadvantaged sections
3. Increasing accountability and transparency in the private schools. The quality of data which the government has on the private schools has improved markedly after Section 12(1)(c) implementation
Unfortunately, there has been an uneven implementation of this policy with 18 out of 34 States and UTs reporting zero enrolment . In 2014-15 the national seat fill rate was a low 15.12% with only 3.46 lakh seats getting filled out of 22.9 lakh available seats .
1. Establish clear rules, processes and guidelines
It is important that states have clear rules and guidelines for entire process of Section 12(1)(c). This includes – defining eligibility, information outreach/ awareness, selection process, reimbursement to schools and grievance mechanism and monitoring. Our analysis suggests that most states haven’t clearly defined the age for entry level classes, type of information to be shared by the schools, location to collect or submit forms, method of calculating reimbursement and authority responsible for books and uniforms.
2. Ensure adequate and timely reimbursement to private schools
States should form committee of experts to determine the methodology of calculating per-child expenditure and release it publicly, which should also be revised periodically. The entire reimbursement amount of the academic year should be transferred in school’s bank account no later than 3 months after the conclusion of that year.
3. Invest in e-governance initiatives
The governments of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have already implemented different e-governance initiatives to facilitate admissions and child tracking. This leads to transparency in application and admission procedure, increases application, facilitates child-tracking and saves administrative effort in implementation.
4. Include children enrolled under RTE Section 12(1)(c) in the State and National Achievement Surveys
As these children in private schools are government funded, it is imperative to understand their performance and learning levels. This would also provide a useful indicator on the success (as measured by academic performance) of this provision.
Central Square Foundation, along with researchers from IIM Ahmedabad, Accountability Initiative (Centre for Policy Research) and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, has worked on two national reports on RTE Section 12(1)(c) implementation. The reports can be accessed here.
 Calculations based on DISE data 2014-15
 Rao, Gautam. “Familiarity Does Not Breed Contempt:Diversity,Discrimination and Charity in Delhi Schools.” UC Berkeley, Psychology and Economics Seminar, 2012
 Some states like Rajasthan have built elaborate data systems to facilitate RTE implementation with information related to school’s recognition, fees, admissions etc.
 2014-15 figures by MHRD in response to RTI request
 Calculation based on DISE data 2014-15
 Conceptually this is similar to private aided schools which are already included in national and state achievement surveys