Only 29 percent of 21 lakh seats reserved for disadvantaged students under RTE filled across India

Even after 5 years of RTE, State rules and notifications on the provision for 25 percent reservation for disadvantaged students in private schools not clear

Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Central Square Foundation, Accountability Initiative and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy launch report to assess implementation of RTE 25 percent reservation across Indian states

New Delhi, March 24, 2015: Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act mandates 25 percent reservation for children from economically and socially disadvantaged sections in private unaided non-minority schools.

The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Central Square Foundation, Accountability Initiative and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy,  launched a report titled ‘State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(c)’ that examines the implementation of this policy.  The report was launched by Mr. Abhimanyu Singh, Former Director, UNESCO, Beijing Office, and finds that only 29 percent of seats reserved for disadvantaged students in India were filled in 2013-14.

Talking about the implementation of RTE Section 12(1)(c) in India, Ashish Dhawan, Founder and CEO, Central Square Foundation said, “The number of students who have secured admission in private schools under the 25 percent reservation provision is extremely low. Even after 5 years of RTE, State rules and notifications of this provision are not clearly defined, this is leading to ineffective implementation across states. If implemented effectively, this policy can provide opportunities to 1.6 crore children across India.

The report provides a comparison of fill-rate of RTE 25% quota seats across private schools in 28 states, based on the analysis of District Information System for Education (DISE) 2013-14 data. The analysis of seat fill rate reveals huge variance across states. In Madhya Pradesh, the fill rate was as high as 88% whereas in Andhra Pradesh (prior to the division of the state into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), it was as low as 0.2%.


Talking about the low seat fill rate and huge variation across states, Prof. Ankur Sarin, Faculty-Public Systems Group, Indian Institute of Management- Ahmedabad, said, “Just two states, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan account for half of the national fill rate. Our report carefully analyses the implementation of this provision across various parameters to better understand the reason for huge variations in the fill rate across states and share potential solutions.”

While the report uses DISE data, it also highlights a fair amount of inconsistency between the DISE data and data on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan website, state websites, and even those reported as responses to RTI queries that were filed by the authors. These alternative numbers show large differences in the data as compared to each other and as compared to DISE, and therefore point to the necessity of having more reliable data collection and management systems.

The report also highlights that in 2013-14, out of 2.06 lakh private unaided schools with Class I, only about 45,000 schools reported enrolling students under Section 12(1)(c). States such as Andhra Pradesh (0.1%), Odisha (1%) and Uttar Pradesh (2%) have reported the lowest school participation rate, whereas states such as Rajasthan (65%), Delhi (48%) and Uttarakhand (43%) rank among states with the highest school participation rate under this provision.

Talking about low school participation rates, Yamini Aiyar, Director, Accountabilility Initiative (Centre for Policy Research) said, “There is no clarity on how the reimbursement amount is calculated. In many instances, schools and parents are unclear if the fee waiver applies only to the school tuition or includes expenses such as books, stationery and uniform. Private schools also face the problem of delay in receipt of reimbursement from the government. In our report, we have identified important gaps in transparency and availability of information related to seat availability, admissions and reimbursement. Clarity on methodology and on elements covered in reimbursement calculations, reliable and easily accessible data would help make the government and private schools more accountable.

To address these challenges and ensure effective implementation of this provision, there is a need to strengthen the legal provisions of this Act and the associated State rules and notifications.

Dr. Arghya Sengupta, Founder and Research Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy added, “From a legal standpoint, effective implementation of this provision requires that the State RTE rules and notifications clearly provide information to different stakeholders to access the law, expand reimbursement to cover pre-primary classes, establish an independent commission to address grievances, prevent disadvantaged children from dropping out and remove blanket exemptions for minority schools.

The report also highlights innovative practices that can be adopted to strengthen implementation of this provision across states. For instance, there is an opportunity to learn from Maharashtra that piloted an online centralised lottery system for admissions under this provision. Rajasthan has implemented a complete admission to reimbursement management system for making the process more efficient.

The effective implementation of this policy requires coordinated effort among all stakeholders. The government needs to strengthen rules and notifications, ensure timely reimbursement to schools, establish a robust process for addressing grievances and ensure transparent and reliable data. Civil society can play a critical role in spreading awareness about this provision among target beneficiaries. Private schools will need to take the lead in creating socially inclusive learning environments.

To know more about the report, please visit here.

About the partner organisations

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM A) is India’s premier management school with a mission of generating and propagating new ideas of global significance based on research.

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Central Square Foundation (CSF) is a venture philanthropy fund and policy think tank focused on improving learning outcomes and quality of school education for children for low income communities in India.

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Accountability Initiative (AI), Centre for Policy Research is a research initiative that works to address challenges to government accountability. This requires an approach that strengthens the link between citizens and government, while also creating accountability between decision makers and frontline service providers. As part of its services, Accountability Initiative provides regular, accessible, and relevant analyses of the implementation of government programs. The focus of this analysis is on planning, budgets, fund-flows and decision-making systems at the local administration level.

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Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy is an independent legal policy advisory group whose mission is to achieve good governance in India through impacting legislative and regulatory design.

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