Absence Of Helpline Poses A Challenge
The grievance redressal cell of the Pune Municipal Corporation's school board has been flooded with complaints related to refusal of admission by schools to students allotted to them under the Right to Education Act and asking parents to pay full or partial annual fee.
With no toll-free helpline number, parents are forced to approach the school board rather than contact the help centres in their respective areas.
As per the location of the school, parents have to register their complaints with the respective help centres. But at PMC's school board, people from both Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and cantonment boards are coming with their complaints. “My granddaughter was assigned three schools after the lottery. The first school asked for payment of full fee, which is very huge. The second school was in PCMC area but it said it would not give admission to me as I don't stay in the PCMC area. The third school, while not charging tuition fee, said that I still have to pay Rs 20,000 annually for books, uniforms, picnics, among others. I am a poor person and my annual income is Rs 60,000.How are we supposed to pay?“ asked Mohammad Tamboli.
Avinash Birajdar, another parent, had come with the complaint that the school his daughter had been allotted to was not accepting admission because it had gone to court over the syllabus issue.
“There are too many complaints of schools denying admission on flimsy grounds. The schools cannot deny admission to these students if they have been allotted those centres after the lottery round. However, parents have to make sure that they go to the concerned help desk to register their complaints. We can only register complaints against schools under PMC area,“ said an official from PMC's school board.
“The poor people, who are mostly daily wage labourers, have to waste a day's pay and come to the help centre where they spend an entire day to register complaints as we are also short staffed. Sometimes, after waiting for the whole day they realise that they have come to the wrong centre. I have seen pregnant women, senior citizens standing in the sweltering heat.All this could have been avoided if there was a helpline,“ the official added.