On October 26, a Lucknow-based school bagged the Guinness World Record by becoming the ‘world’s largest’ school in terms of the strength of students. The elite – City Montessori School (CMS) has over 55,547 students.
According to the school’s founder – Jagdish Gandhi – the school started with just five students, and he never thought that the school would one day become the largest school in the world. Currently, the school has over 18 campuses all over the city.
This is the second time the school scooped the world record title. Back in 1999, the school won the Guinness Book of World Record as it had over 22,612 students on roll. But on the one hand, Gandhi boasts the school’s balanced curriculum for students wanting to join the institution while on the other hand, the school has only 15 students under Right to Education (RTE).
What Is RTE?
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on August 4 2009. The act was enforced to make education compulsory for kids between the age of 6 to 14.
While the RTE Act has endeavoured to provide education to scores of children from both urban and rural pockets of the country, the Section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act of 2009 has been rampantly violated by multiple private schools. According to the section, unaided private schools should admit 25 per cent students belonging to underprivileged and economically weak families (EWS) of its total strength.
The eligible kids will get admission in the school free of cost, as the cost will be borne by the government. In India, seats reserved under RTE is 21 lakhs, and of this 30 per cent of the seats, that is 6.3 lakhs come from Uttar Pradesh itself.
The fact that only 54 students were admitted under RTE in 2014 in Uttar Pradesh in 75 districts highlights the extent of RTE violation.
Infringement Of RTE
The City Montessori school is among the forefront of this infringement.
In the year 2015, according to the RTE, the school was supposed to admit 31 students. Refusing to comply, CMS took the matter to the high court. It was then Samina Bano, CEO of Rightwalk Foundation, challenged it. Rightwalk Foundation, a Not for Profit Organisation has fought for the rights of students against multiple private schools including CMS.
The court ordered the school to give admission to at least 13 children.
“I used to take these 13 students along with their parents to the school. But we are not allowed to enter and were harassed despite having a court order,” Samina told The Logical Indian.
The case was taken to divisional bench and later to Supreme Court. The apex court, in its verdict, directed the school to admit all 13 students or face contempt of court.
These 13 students were given admission to the school. Since then the school admitted two in 2018-2019 out of 270 admissions ordered by the education department for the academic session.
Admission were refused for trivial reasons.
“Excuses like the student is below the age of six, already been admitted to another private school, or does not reside within same ward of the school were reiterated”, Amarkant Singh, Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) of Lucknow said.
In September 2018, Amarkant wrote to the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) to withdraw affiliation of all branches of CMS for not admitting poor students under the RTE Act and misleading the primary education.
In the letter he said that the school had violated the RTE Act by denying the right to free education to students of weaker sections.
Jagdish Gandhi then told the media persons that CMS did not given admission to students as they were not eligible under the RTE Act, and some were already studying in good schools.
Attempts were made to reach out to the City Montessori School for comments. The story will be updated with a response.