Tuesday, April 30, 2013

RTE activists train guns on pvt schools

RTE activists train guns on pvt schools

Kamini Mehta, TNN Apr 4, 2013, 04.48AM IST
CHANDIGARH: In the wake of the standoff between the UT administration and private schools trying to wriggle out of the RTE Act, advocates in the city have accused private school managements of deliberately holding up implementation of the Act. Most private schools in the city have not been entitled to reimbursement under the Right to Education Act for the last two years, city based RTE activists pointed out. According to them, private schools have been misinterpreting the RTE clauses and court verdicts and raising queries which have already been addressed in the Act. Education secretary V K Singh confirmed the development.

Elaborating on the reimbursement issue, schools have been raising repeatedly to shrug off their responsibility under the RTE Act, advocate Amar Vivek said, "The RTE Act clearly mentions that the amount will be reimbursed to private schools to teach children under the Act. Therefore, schools can't make it a condition for not admitting 25% children under RTE."
Clearing the confusion on whether private schools have to admit 25% of children from economically weaker sections under the RTE, plus 15% of children under the obligation of land allotment or if the 15% are included in the 25%, advocate Pankaj Chandgothia, a city based RTE activist said, "Clause 2 of Section 12 under the RTE Act reads, provided further that where such school is already under obligation to provide free education to a specified number of children on account of it having received any land, building, equipment or other facilities, either free of cost or at a concessional rate, such school shall not be entitled for reimbursement to the extent of such obligation.
This means they have to admit 25% children under RTE, including the children stated under the land allotment obligation." According to the advocate, in the last three years, schools have admitted less then 15% of children, which means most of them are not even entitled for reimbursement for previous years.
Advocate Amar Vivek pointed out that hardly any schools have been admitting children under the land allotment obligation. "In all these years I have been in touch with many private schools but hardly any schools fulfilled the 15% land obligation condition," he said.
Education-cum-finance secretary, V K Singh said, "It is true that there have not been more than 15% admissions under RTE in private schools and this is the percentage up to which schools have to admit children under the law of land. This means there will be no reimbursement. However, it is taking us time to make schools understand this." Justifying the stance of private schools, president of the Independent Schools' association, H S Mamik said, "Everyone is confusing it. We are only asking the UT to clarify which notification is to be followed by schools.
Regarding percentage of children to be taught under land allotment obligation, we have received three notifications, one in 1996, which read, admit 15% students, in 2001, it read admit 5% children and in 2005, it read everyone has to admit 15% children. We are just saying that if 15% children are to be included in 25% RTE seats, we will start charging a nominal fee from those 15% children as it is not free education like RTE."
Advocate Chandgothia stated that schools have been misinterpreting the Delhi high court verdict. "The verdict passed by the Delhi high court is on the 75% seats and not on the 25% seats under RTE. The schools have taken it as another excuse. Clause 1c of Section 12 under the RTE Act clearly states that in case of schools which impart pre-school education, the Act will apply to pre-school education," he said.

RTE activists in the city state that private schools are taking advantage of the leniency of the department. They blame the department for not being able to answer queries of private schools effectively, leading to confusion. "Every state is taking strict action against schools which have failed to implement RTE but the UT administration has been extremely lenient. Had it taken strict action against one school, everything would have fallen into place, Chandgothia and Vivek asserted.

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