Bangalore: Electrical serviceman Peter Murali was thrilled when he realised his son Xavier could go to a good private school when the Right to Education (RTE) became law. But the cold shoulder he got from school officials made him rethink. After all, it was a school his son had to be in for ten years. A week after the admission, Peter opted out.
He says, "We thought of his future... If they behave like this in the beginning, how will they behave through the years? So we put him in a government school."
Some parents say school officials keep trying to extort money from RTE students.
Families of numerous children who were sent to private schools under the RTE have alleged discrimination.
Says Dada Peer Saab, a parent, "They said 'Give Rs 7,000 for fees because no money comes from the government'. They threatened to remove my son from the rolls if I did not."
Sultana, another parent, says, "My daughter's school took Rs 5,000 from me for my two children."
RTE activist Yasir Mohammed spent two months convicing parents to send their wards to private schools. However, convincing schools was next to impossible, he said.
"We approached nearly 17 to 18 schools… except for 3-4 schools... rest were all negative about RTE... They were not entertaining us... one even called the police..."
Karnataka boasts of getting nearly 45,000 students admitted under the RTE quota this year. But almost every second home that saw the RTE at play talks of some subtle discrimination, elitism or harassment.
Nagaraju fought with his son's school to ensure he was shifted from the last to the first bench. But he says somethimes it's better to adjust.
"If it's a small problem, we should adjust... unless it's serious discrimination."
'Kindly adjust.' It's a typical Bangalorean term. But how long can you adjust when your right is being denied?