Four years after guidelines for implementing the Right to Education Act, 2009 in the state were framed, the Himachal government has approved a proposal to set aside 25% reservation for admission of children belonging to disadvantaged groups in private unaided schools. However, the government fixed a condition that children belonging to "economically weaker sections" (EWS) would be permitted to go to private schools as per the Act if there was no vacancy in state-run primary or middle schools.
This condition can be attributed to the compulsion of the government since there are an adequate numbers of schools and the numbers of students in state-run schools are declining every year.
If there is less than 25 students in primary and less than 40 in middle schools, EWS children would not be given admission in private unaided schools. "The school head will give a 'no objection certificate' to EWS children if there's no vacancy in state-run schools. Also, EWS children will only be eligible for admission in private school located within a distance of 1.5 kilometers from their homes," a government official who requested anonymity said.
With the imposition of this condition the number of EWS children is likely to fall. According to RTE norms, there should be over 18, 882 seats reserved for EWS children in the state. However, the Supreme Court, in April 2012, had ordered that RTE Act would be applicable only for day schools and not in private minority schools.
Further, tuition fees charged by private schools will be reimbursed by the state government on a per-child basis. "As per the RTE norms, private schools will be reimbursed tuition fees for children belonging to economically weaker sections. According to rough estimates, the annual amount has pegged at over `20 crore, which will increase yearly," the official added.
In Himachal there are around 4,300 primary, 640 middle, 19 high and 3 senior secondary schools with less than 20 students and EWS children residing near these schools will not be given admission in private unaided schools.