AURANGABAD: The state government has not made applicable the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota for admissions under the Right To Education (RTE) Act for 2020-21.
The move has sparked a backlash.
In January last year, the BJP-led government at the Centre had introduced a 10% EWS quota across the country for citizens in the general category with an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh. The quota was for those who do not belong to any reserved category, such as the SC/ST/OBC.
“The EWS quota was meant for education and jobs. It makes no sense for the government to exclude the RTE admissions from the 10% reservation. It is an unjust move by the government that will cause academic loss to students,” said Renuka Washikar, a parent.
Akhil Jain, another parent, said parents should now mount a legal battle against the state government. “Parents from the general category should join hands and take the state government to court,” he said.
Dinkar Temkar, the state joint director of education (primary), said the EWS quota was not made applicable for the RTE admissions as the “weaker section” was already one of the target beneficiaries. “Children whose parents have an annual income of under Rs 1 lakh are considered beneficiaries of the RTE Act. Therefore, interests of part of the target population under the EWS quota are already protected during admissions under the RTE Act,” he said.
Temkar said instances of beneficiaries claiming the RTE quota by producing bogus income proof are already high and introduction of the EWS quota could make the admissions process murkier.
Education activists, however, refused to buy the explanation.
“The Maharashtra government had ratified the EWS quota introduced by the Centre on February 12, 2019, making 10% reservation applicable in educational opportunities and jobs. The education department has no right to exclude admissions under the RTE Act from the EWS quota,” educational activist Tukaram Saraf said.
On apprehensions about bogus income documents, Saraf said it is the responsibility of the education department to thoroughly scrutinize the paperwork being submitted by parents.
Maharashtra school education minister Varsha Gaikwad did not respond to phone calls or text messages for her comments.