Aadhaar, Voter ID to check possible fraud in Right to Education Act

BENGALURU: State govt limits address proof options as parents fake their addresses to claim seats in the schools they prefer Aadhaar, the unique identification number, and voter identity card will be the only documents the state government will accept to prevent parents from faking addresses while claiming free seats for their children under the Right to Education (RTE) Act this academic year .

Parents can apply for RTE seats only in schools located within their municipal ward (or neighbourhood) in 2016-17. The education department has discovered that, despite the process going online, many parents faked their addresses to claim seats in the schools they preferred. 

“Presently, 22 documents are accepted as address proof. That being such a long list, people could find ways to cheat the system. Many par ents misrepresent ed the ward they live in. Close to a lakh applications received last year were bogus,” Principal Secretary (Primary and Secondary Education) Ajay Seth told ET.”Addresses given in the Aadhaar card or the voter identity card will be accepted and nothing else. This is precisely based on experience.” 

The move could have a significant impact on RTE admissions in Bengaluru, the city that attracts most number of applications.”Rules say that a ward is a neigh bourhood. So we are mapping each locality based on the list of wards under the BBMP ,” Seth said. 

Last year, officials discovered at least 10,000 RTE applications duplicated: a child looking for a seat through multiple applications. “We found many cases where the father and the mother of a child would apply for a seat separately,” said K Ananda, director (primary education). 

Shrinking the list of documents for address proof to just the Aadhaar and the voter id card will not affect parents, authorities believe. 

According to the Unique Identification Authority of India, 5.31 crore out of 6.46 crore citizens in Karnataka have Aadhaar numbers, covering over 80% of the population. Bengaluru has 76.66 lakh Aadhaar cardholders, about 90% of the city’s population as per Census 2011. Similarly, the city has 73.28 lakh voters. 

Child rights activist Nagasimha G Rao, who is the convenor of the RTE Task Force, hailed the move. “The neighbourhood criterion is in the interest of children so that their school is ideally within the one-km radius. The government, however, could look at insisting on Aadhaar and EPIC in a phased manner so as to include slum dwellers, many of whom may not have these documents,” Rao said. 

The list of children admitted under RTE will be made public so that citizens can alert the education department about ineligible beneficiaries, Seth added.