Thursday, January 23, 2014

Schools yet to get RTE reimbursements

Schools yet to get RTE reimbursements

Abhishek Choudhari, TNN Apr 23, 2013, 01.32AM IST

NAGPUR: Schools which admitted students under the 25% quota of Right to Education Act (RTE) are left feeling cheated because the government is yet to reimburse their fees. Over thousand admissions were completed under RTE quota in Nagpur during the last academic year, and the same numbers were reflected in admissions for the 2013-14 session as well. Nagpur city was the first in state to have admitted a child under the RTE quota.
A school owner on condition of anonymity, said, "The government has ditched us but we only have ourselves to blame. We were fools to have believed that the government will follow through on their promises. They threatened us with severe action last year when there was resistance to admit students under the 25% quota, but now that they are erring who will take action against them?"
Someshwar Netam, education officer (primary) and RTE in-charge for the district, maintains that due procedure is being followed. "In March we sent the bills to the head office and they will take due action. We must all show some patience as this is the first year and certain problems are bound to crop up," said Netam.
School education minister Rajendra Darda too was unable to give a satisfactory reply to TOI's queries. "I am currently touring the drought affected areas with the chief minister, so I shall get back to you later with the details. I had briefly spoken about RTE with the secretary in-charge about a week ago and don't recall him telling me about such problems," said Darda.
There are speculations that the education department is scrutinizing the bills submitted by schools to detect fraud, and this may be causing the delay. A senior IAS officer, who did not wish to be identified, told TOI that schools need to prove that every reimbursement case is genuine. "The funds for reimbursing schools are already available with the state. Schools submitting the bills need to ensure that all documents supporting the student's eligibility for a free seat have been provided to education officers," said the official.
Schools, however, say this reverification is an exercise in futility. A school's principal, said, "The local education office has already verified the documents we had attached with our bills, hence it makes no sense to do it twice. This is typical government's bureaucratic harassment which now makes me reconsider my decision."
Some school owners told TOI that they were contemplating 'rejection' of candidates from next academic session. "There are a dozen legal ways to reject a candidate and we might as well exercise that from next year. The education under RTE is supposed to be free for specified students, and not for us. We require the money or else the other option is to increase the fee drastically for the remaining 75%," the school owner said.

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