After schools in Karnataka moved the High Court for Right to Education (RTE) reimbursements, Mumbai schools recently threatened to stop admissions to the quota in which 25% poor students are educated for free from class 1 to 8. They have demanded that the state reimburse their actual expenditure on the quota, instead of paying them fixed amounts.
Unaided, non-minority schools across India are required to admit students from economically and socially weaker sections to 25% seats at their entry-levels, according to the RTE Act, 2009. It stipulates that schools cannot charge them fees or ask them to pay for field trips, stationery, books, or any extra-curricular activities.
While the law states that the government must reimburse the schools for this, Mumbai schools said that the money given by the state is insufficient to cover their actual costs - tuition fees and extra-curricular activities in private schools.
Maharashtra schools receive a maximum of Rs17,329 per student as fees or the amount of their tuition fees, whichever is lesser, according to the government resolution issued in June, 2016. Although this amount was raised from Rs14, 621 per child in 2013-14 and Rs12,315 in 2012-13, it doesn’t offer much comfort because the government refuses to reimburse them for admitting students in pre-primary, even if it is their entry-level.
School managements want the government to reimburse each school on the basis of their actual expenditure on the child, which may range between Rs20,000 and Rs40,000, depending on the school, instead of prior fixed amount.
“Each school offers different infrastructure and facilities, so it is unfair to give a previously set amount to all schools,” said Amol Dhamdhere, vice president, Indian Education Society, which runs several schools in Mumbai and the director of Sanjivani International School, Mulund. “You don’t expect tea at a roadside stall and a five star hotel to cost the same, in the same manner, private and government schools expenses are not the same.”
Schools have tied up with parents and principals groups to fight for this demand. “RTE reimbursements affect everyone, from school to parent,” said Rajendra Singh, member of the Independent English Schools Association, which includes 823 schools across the state. “If schools don’t get paid for 25% students in every grade, they are forced to pass on the burden of fees to non-RTE students.”
Singh said that currently in Mumbai and Pune, schools are charging RTE students for extra-curricular activities, as they are left with no choice, as the government barely reimburses tuition fees and doesn’t pay for the extra facilities provided by the schools.