Already cash-strapped, private aided schools in the city are now worried about how they will support reserved students. The state government is not going to reimburse the cost of educating children admitted in these schools through the 25% quota.
Principals said that although their fees are not very high, the additional expense would plunge them into deeper financial trouble and that the government should consider providing them compensation for these children.
The Right To Education (RTE) Act 2009 does not make any exemptions for private aided schools, as they already get government funding. Officially, private aided schools cannot charge students more than a nominal tuition fee (up to Rs. 10 per term), but many schools have been charging fees under other pretexts because the government has not been paying them their non-salary grants since 2004. This has resulted in a burden on parents.
Principals said the government should rethink the move.
“It will become difficult for the school management to function without government aid. We already have a deficit,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, Holy Family School in Andheri.
“We already enroll poor students and now we will have to request affluent parents to sponsor or adopt a child.”
The Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE), which governs 74 private aided schools in the city, said that this was expected from the government.
“We are not surprised with the government’s move to not fund the quota students. The Right to Education Act has many loopholes and implementation still remains a question,” said Father Gregory Lobo, head of ABE.
The ABE will hold a meeting of these 74 schools in June to decide how to address the funding issue.
The government also said that schools that received land from the government at low rates would not be reimbursed. For instance, Fazlani L'Académie Globale in Mazagoan got land from the government at a cheaper rate.
“Right now our chairman is out of the country and we will meet next week to take a call on what needs to be done. The decision will take place at the board level,” said an official from the administrative department.