Schools have reacted with caution to the state government's decision to introduce a 25% reservation for economically-weaker sections in all schools across the state. The rule is part of the Right to Education Act's push for inclusive education.
The government has offered to reimburse Rs1,000 towards the monthly fee for every child admitted under the 25 % quota. Yet, schools are worried. “We are to see the fine print before we can understand the implications,” said Rohit Bhat, principal of Children's Academy, Malad. “If schools have to bear the remaining cost in cases where the fees are above Rs 1,000 per month, parents of other students might object.”
The move could escalate school fees for other students, who would now be expected to cross-subsidise the education of students from economically-weaker backgrounds.
“The government should reimburse the schools depending on the expenditure incurred by the school, as it varies a lot,” said Father Swamy, principal of Holy Family School, Andheri.
Lina Ashar, chairperson of Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd, said she supported the Act, but schools would have to work out the financial implications.
Authorities are also worried about adjustment issues. “We don't mind admitting the children but it will be a challenge for them to study with those from more privileged backgrounds,” said Rekha Vijayakar, director of Guru Harkrishan School. “And what about the frustration of the child,” she added.
Agreeing with her, Ashar said, “If you have some children coming to school for the first time and others who have been to pre-school, the classroom environment could be affected.”
Most school authorities, however, preferred to wait for details before commenting. “There are many questions. For instance, how are the students under the quota to be identified,” asked Indu Mathur, principal of Apeejay School in Kharghar.