But this is no solace for thousands of parents who do not know if the fees they paid would ever be refunded or if the school they chose would work or shut down. Worried parents are wondering what the deal between the government and private schools is.
Basic school education is more like a task for parents and students. With the government stating that schools which do not comply with the RTE Act norms will be shut down, parents seeking admission for their children in private schools are in a fix, not knowing if their chosen school will work or close down.
The number of schools defaulting on RTE Act is growing by the day, and parents are left in the lurch. Though the government has been stating that hundreds of schools will have to shut down because of their non-compliance with the RTE Act, so far, the government had not released an official list of the defaulting schools so that parents can browse and decide.
On the other hand, majority of the schools are going ahead with the admission process and conducting entrance exams, and parents are left with no choice but to rush before it’s too late. “It’s April and June is when the new academic year begins. The admission process has begun in schools and if we don’t hurry, there is a possibility that our child can lose out on admission. Since 2009, the government has been dragging its feet over the Act and it is now confusing parents and students,” says Rajender Prasad, a concerned parent.
Stating that for so long, the education department and the government had given the defaulting schools a long rope, the DEO (Hyderabad district) Chinna Reddy says, “We have been sending reminders and circulars to the defaulting schools. Though some of them have responded and acted on the circulars, majority of the schools failed to do so. So we have decided to take action against them now.”
Minister for secondary education K Partha Sarathy, however, states that the department will be releasing the list of the defaulting schools shortly so that the parents will no longer have any confusion. “We have already made the list and are waiting for the Class X exams to get completed. As soon as the exams are done, the list will be published,” he says.
Apart from their child losing out on a year of education, what seems to be the concern of parents is the high fee structure which is not refundable. “I have to get my son admitted in Class III in a new school, and I am really worried about it. What if the school is made to shut down in the middle of the academic year? My son will lose out on one year of his education then. Also, after paying thousands of rupees, we will not even be refunded the amount,” said Farzana Bhanu, a parent.
The government, on the other hand, is not assuring the parents of fee reimbursement in case the school their kids are studying in is made to shut down. “The main issue we have with majority of the schools is that they do not have proper infrastructure, like playgrounds and fire safety measures. If the schools try to fulfil these requirements within a couple of months and show us, we will still consider it, and only restrict action to fining without closing down the schools. However, if schools do not comply with the norms, we will be forced to shut them down. Regarding the reimbursement of fees, the government cannot do much,” said minister Partha Sarathy.
Meanwhile, some of the schools which are likely to be on the verge of closure seem to be running now from pillar to post to get their act together. “A few branches of our schools were denied recognition because they did not comply with the infrastructure norms of the RTE Act. We have taken a playground on lease in an open plot next to our school. We will submit the same to the government and ask for recognition,” says a principal of a private school.