Friday, March 7, 2014

Coimbatore schools hit by delay in govt reimbursement of fees under RTE

COIMBATORE: Schools in the region are beginning to worry about whether the government would reimburse the fees for students admitted under the Right to Education Act (RTE). They say that if they are not reimbursed, they will be forced to charge fees from the students. As per the Act, the government is supposed to reimburse the fees for the first semester by September. But they are yet to hear from the state about when they will receive the money.

R Visalakshi, President of Tamil Nadu Private School Association, said that they have not had any information with regard to the reimbursement of fees. "This non-payment is affecting the functioning of schools," she said. They plan to petition the education department in the coming week demanding immediate reimbursement of fees.

Schools were asked to admit 25 percent of students from economically weak families free of cost and the government would later reimburse them the fees. "This delay will defeat the whole purpose of the Act. There are some schools that are already charging fees from students admitted under the Act, telling the parents they would return the money once they received reimbursement from the government," said R Manimohan, chairman of the Federation of Students Welfare Association of Parents (SWAP). Schools will now use this delay as an excuse to collect fees from all students, he added.

"We had submitted the requested data to the education department with regard to admissions by the end of May. Later, as the deadline to apply under RTE act was extended, we submitted the final report to the department by the end of July. The government had promised to reimburse the first term fees by September and for the second semester by January. Usually, we get the fees from each student at the start of the semester to enable us to meet various expenses. With the fees getting delayed for this section, we find it difficult to manage the school," said the correspondent of a city school who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

"Many poor parents who managed to get their children admitted under this act, fear that they will have to pay enormous amounts now," said V Eswaran, district secretary, MDMK who filed a petition with the district education department regarding the matter.

Senior officials with the education department said being the first year of implementation, reimbursement will take some time. "The central government has to allot the funds which may take some time," said a senior official on conditions of anonymity.
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