Saturday, March 30, 2013

Now, no school in Maharashtra can dodge RTE

Now, no school in Maharashtra can dodge RTE

Published: Friday, Jul 13, 2012, 8:15 IST
By Puja Pednekar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The state education department has said schools which have received concessions from the government on land, water, tax and others should not be able to escape from implementing the Right to Education Act (RTE).
The department has suggested that such schools cannot call themselves “unaided minorities”, as they have received help from the state government in some form or another. The department is now conducting a survey of city schools to find out the kind of concessions that have been given to such unaided schools.
According to the Supreme Court judgment in April 2012, schools that are unaided minorities will be exempted from the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. But in Mumbai, this clause is creating problems in the implementation of the Act as majority of the schools are claiming to be unaided minorities.
Sanjay Deshmukh, nodal officer for RTE and special project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, said most of the schools that are claiming to be unaided have received government help. For instance, several schools, which have received land on a concessional rate, are exempted from paying water tax, and are even provided concessions in electricity bills.
“Why should such schools call themselves as unaided? They might not be receiving salary and non-salary grants from the government, but they could have benefitted from the government help for raising infrastructure. Hence, they should not refuse from admitting 25% poor students under the RTE. Other aspects of the RTE should also be binding on these schools,” he said.
Echoing his views, Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education (FFE) said that it was a good move to include such schools in the RTE.
“Some schools are even exempted from paying income tax or service tax, although they make profits. Though the schools are claiming to be minority, there are less than 50% minority students on their rolls. It would be a good idea to include such schools, otherwise RTE will be a failure as majority of schools would not fall under it,” said Jain.
The forum is also going to file a Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay high court against such schools.

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