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Education bill equals fee hike?

india Updated: Aug 06, 2009 02:41 IST
Swaha Sahoo

<b1>The implementation of the right to education bill may lead to an increase in fees at private unaided schools in the capital.

The ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2009’ — passed by Parliament on Tuesday — makes its compulsory for private aided (partially funded by the government) and unaided schools to take in 25 per cent children belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes, other backward classes, socially and educationally backward classes, and economically weaker sections.

Private unaided schools said they would be forced to hike fees if the government did not pay the full tuition fees for the reserved seats.

“We aren’t against taking in 25 per cent students from socially and economically backward classes,” said S.L. Jain, chairperson, National Progressive Schools’ Conference, an association of 115 leading private institutions of Delhi.

“But the government must reimburse the actual fees. If it pays only part of the fees, then we may have to increase the fees for the other 75 per cent students and parents.”

Under the provisions of the right to education bill, the government will reimburse private schools to the extent of per-child expenditure incurred by government schools or the actual amount charged from the child, whichever is less.

<b2>Private schools in Delhi claim to spend Rs 2,500 per month per child. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, which runs primary schools, spends up to Rs 800 per child per month.

“For a school like ours which gives so many freeships and scholarships, working out the economics of the 25 per cent reservation will be a challenge,” said Ameeta Wattal, principal Springdales School, Pusa Road.

The Delhi government already reserves 15 per cent seats for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in schools which have acquired land from it at concessionary rates.

Most private schools have consistently opposed the EWS quota and made it difficult for parents to make use of it.

“Parents are still struggling to get through the EWS quota,” said Ashok Aggarwal, a Delhi HC lawyer and director of Social Jurist, a group fighting for children’s right to education and the elimination of child labour. “Schools run out of forms and the last date of admission suddenly closes for parents applying under the EWS quota.”