State owes private schools ₹1,200 crore towards RTE fees
Mumbai: A day after the state education minister announced in the ongoing assembly winter session about making a ₹200-crore provision from the budget for the Right to Education (RTE), private schools in Maharashtra have raised their concern about the non-payment of earlier RTE fees, amounting to a whopping ₹1,200 crore
Mumbai: A day after the state education minister announced in the ongoing assembly winter session about making a ₹200-crore provision from the budget for the Right to Education (RTE), private schools in Maharashtra have raised their concern about the non-payment of earlier RTE fees, amounting to a whopping ₹1,200 crore.
“The government owes a refund of around ₹1,200 crore to the schools from the academic year 2017-18 onwards,” said Pravin Avhale, president of the Maharashtra English School Association (MESA). “However, it has shelled out only ₹200 crore, which is injustice towards the school managements.” Some schools, in fact, have been waiting for their reimbursement since 2012.
In the assembly session, when MLC Kapil Patil from the teachers constituency asked a question about the non-reimbursement of RTE fees, education minister Deepak Kesarkar replied, “The government distributed ₹707.49 crore from 2012-13 to 2021-22. For the academic year 2022-23, the government budgeted ₹200 crore, of which ₹84 crore was distributed.” However, schools said the pending reimbursement amount was much higher, and the government was deliberately concealing the figure.
Under the RTE act, private schools in the state have to give 25 percent of their seats to students from the economically weaker sections. The fees of these students are paid by the government. Since 2011-12, when the act was first enforced in the state, payments from the state government have been disbursed in chunks, leaving many schools’ finances in disarray.
In keeping with the provisions of the RTE Act, all reimbursements have to be borne by the Centre as well as state governments in a 60:40 ratio. Two years ago, the state education department had a budget of ₹17,600 per student per annum. In order to reduce RTE spending, this amount was reduced to ₹8,000 per student from 2020-21.
“As the government is failing to reimburse the fees of RTE students, it is becoming difficult for administrators to run the schools,” said Rajendra Singh, secretary of the Independent English Schools Association (IESA). “Schools with fees of less than ₹20,000 per annum find it difficult to operate if they don’t receive fees from 25 percent of their students.” Some schools in the state were now on the verge of closure, said Singh, and others were looking for ways to avoid admitting students under the RTE quota. “The government should take appropriate action on this,” he pointed out.
S C Kedia, honorary secretary of the Unaided Schools’ Forum, said, “There is definitely more than ₹1,200 crore pending with the government. They are misleading the public by concealing actual figures. Generally, only budgetary allocations are shared, not the exact requirements.” Kedia also pointed out that the Maharashtra government insisted on RTE admissions beginning from the pre-primary section but reimbursed fees only from the first standard onwards.