Quotas under RTE: Leading towards an egalitarian education system?
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Quotas for weaker sections in private schools have been one of the most controversial and contested instruments introduced as part of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. In this paper, we conduct critical discursive analysis of the debate around the RTE quotas among key actors – private school principals, children from weaker sections and their parents. We find that the quotas have imposed a debate on issues of social integration and equity in education that private actors have by and large escaped from. However, the idea of an egalitarian education system that sees as its primary goal, equality of opportunity appears to be outside the rationalities that well-meaning private school principals inhabit. Therefore, the imposition of the quotas has led to a resistance, which is justified in several ways. But the essential arguments of the resistance are based in the logic of markets that leadership in private schools inhabit. The logic not only leads them to resist the idea of integration, but also leads to them devalue the efforts and costs being borne by those who bear the greatest risks in this experiment, the children and parents from the weaker sections.
- Working Papers