Schools take fees from poor kids

RTE Act states children should have access to free education till eighth standard

Some schools in the city are violating the Right to Education (RTE) Act by demanding fees from children who come under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category.

According to the RTE, schools have to give free education to children under EWS category till eighth standard.

“A school official told us that we should pay the fees if we want to enrol our child, or else send the child somewhere else next year.

The school’s land is owned by a trust and they have to pay the trust,” said Ritu Malhotra, a homemaker whose two kids study in Lilawati Vidya Mandir School at Shakti Nagar.

Malhotra said the school started asking for  fees once her daughter completed nursery. Her younger son is still in nursery for free.

“We are paying the fees for our daughter for the last two years because school authorities harass her if we don’t pay. Sometimes she is asked to stand outside the class. Other EWS students who do not pay the fees are punished,” added Malhotra.

She said the school has agreed to exclude the tuition fee of Rs 1,670 per month after much convincing. But the school demanded the remaining Rs 420. Malhotra has stopped paying the fees for the last few months. Her daughter is now in third standard.

“I told them that we can’t afford to pay the fees. My husband repairs cycles and earns Rs 100-150 a day. I am worried that from next year I have to pay for my son’s fee too,” she said.

Activist Rizwan Ali said several schools in the city are charging fees from students in the EWS category, especially in north Delhi.

The school principal said no fee has been taken from any student under the EWS category. “Although we are not taking any fee from parents of such students, I will still check,” said Sushama Khurana, Principal, Lilavati Vidya Mandir School.
A similar situation has put labourer Rambabu in a fix. Vivek Modern School in Bhajanpura has started taking fees for his son, who is in first standard.

“They asked me to admit my child, promising no fee would be taken. But since July, they have been taking fees from me. They misled me. I have a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card and I hardly earn anything. I have to pay at least Rs 200 per month,” said Rambabu.

The school asked him to pay half the fees. The principal could not be contacted after repeated attempts.

“Schools that charge fees from students coming under the EWS category never put any information about such transaction in their records. Some small- and medium-level schools are taking fees by manipulating the fee structure.
They will ask for development fees or exclude the tuition fees.

But the RTE Act doesn’t mandate any kind of fee to be taken by schools from EWS children,” said Khagesh Jha, member of Social Jurist, a non-governmental organisation working for the underprivileged.

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