From the next academic year, every school in the state, aided or not, will have to keep aside 25% of their seats from Classes 1 to 8 for students from the socially and economically weaker sections of society, according to rules framed by the state cabinet for implementation of the Right to Education Act on Wednesday.
The rules will be binding on schools across various boards and will apply first to Class I next year and then to others.Under the Act, the state will pay Rs 12,000 every year for the education of every child from the weaker sections. But it is unclear how fees in excess of Rs 12,000 will be paid and by whom.
The annual fees for an unaided school affiliated to the state board are, on an average, Rs 18,000, while those for ICSE schools are usually in excess of Rs40,000. There are concerns that the excess costs could be recovered by schools by hiking fees of other students.
There is also no clarity on how fees will be paid after Class 8 or even if the students' seats in schools would continue to be secure, as the Act only covers students up to that level.
"We have agreed on paying schools the money [Rs 12,000, annually] that we keep aside for funding these sections. Other financial details will be worked out soon," CM Prithviraj Chavan said.
Education Minister Rajendra Darda said a notification would be issued on the financial aspects of the move. The state generally covers families below the poverty line, that is, those with an annual income of less than Rs 20,000, under such schemes.
"The notification will clearly define the categories of students [to be supported by the state] and how schools will take care of excess fees till Class 8 and thereafter," he said.