In a meeting held recently between the education department and private schools, a few private city schools raised concern over delay in reimbursement by the department for enrolment of the students under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota.
A department official, requesting anonymity, told HT, “A few principals said free books, uniforms and midday meal should also be provided to students admitted under the EWS quota during the meeting held regarding common admission schedule between private school heads and education department officials.”
Commenting on the same, president of the Independent School’s Association HS Mamik said, “I think it’s high time that the authorities fulfil their promise made two years back about providing books, uniforms, meals and other such necessities free of cost to the EWS students. This can only be made possible if the per child expenditure is reimbursed within time.”
He added that the department officials had frivolous time to ask unaided private schools in the city to instruct parents of students to buy uniform, stationary and books from particular shops, but no time for taking up real issues like this.
Meanwhile, principal, Delhi Public School, Chandigarh, Reema Dewan said, “While the DPI has ensured us that he will look into this pivotal issue, I am still debating the feasibility of how this will function. While books and uniforms make complete sense, I don’t know will distributing midday meal only to a section of students in a class in the private schools turn out to be a practical decision.”
Agreeing with her, Strawberry Fields School director Atul Khanna said most of the schools are in favour of free books and uniform, more than the midday meal, for these kids. “In this way there will be no discrimination among students as it will lead to the loss of inclusive education,” he said.
Talking of ensuring the underprivileged children’s dignity, St John’s High School principal Kavita Das said it will only worsen the situation as currently they had 200 underprivileged kids in their school. “The whole point is to ensure that they have access to everything that the other kids have. So perhaps a subsidy or any programme by the government to ensure the same can prove to be profitable.”
Meanwhile, the reimbursement has to be made only for 10% of the students belonging to EWS quota as schools are bound to admit 15% candidates free of cost under the UT administration’s subsidised land allotment policy. The per child expenditure governed by the state and the per child expenditure governed by the school, whichever is less, will be reimbursed as per the Section 12 of the Act,” a senior official of the education department had told HT earlier.
Schools have been demanding that the department should reimburse them on the basis of what they are spending on the facilities and infrastructure provided to the other students.
Last year, Mamik had given a statement that - “Private schools cannot afford to do charity work for the government.”
Reimbursements till now
The reimbursed EWS bill for 2010-11 was Rs 81,560, Rs 4.6 lakh for 2011-12 and this year, the department reimbursed around Rs 10 lakh for 2012-13. In 2011-12, the per child expenditure was Rs 865, which came down to Rs 750 in 2012-13.
No payment after 2012-13
However, after the 2012-13 session, the department did not fix the per child expenditure. Thus, the reimbursement has been pending for three sessions 2013-14, 2014-15 and 201516 (which will end in another three months).
Education dept’s take
In 2014, the education department officials had stated that they had kept Rs 50 lakh from the budget only for the reimbursements, but the department had claimed that a majority of schools had not come forward to claim their bills.