These schools are 'unique' under RTE admission quota

Officials in quandary over reimbursement norms for special children

Special schools appear to be on an altogether different pedestal when it comes to admissions under the Right To Education quota.

Admissions under the quota in these schools may not be treated on a par with those in other schools going by the official version.

A case in point is the admissions made for ‘Sunad Kivudu Makkala Shaale’ (school for hearing impaired) at Lingarajapuram. While the parents of the 10 students admitted under the quota are jubilant, officials are confused about the parameters to be adopted for reimbursement of fees in such cases.

Director of Primary Education Dev Prakash said there is no exclusive provision on reimbursement of fee in respect of special schools.

“Special schools have various other benefits designed for them. Now that the list has been announced, we could probably accommodate them under the 25 per cent reservation on the basis of the caste they belong to. If the school writes to us, we will be able to provide a solution,” Prakash said.

The Right to Education Act emphasises the importance of integrating specially-abled students in mainstream schools. Towards this end, it directs the government to provide training and material support, including transportation facilities wherever required.

Though the spirit of the Act is in favour of the specially-abled students, there are no specific regulations at present for adapting the legal framework to their benefit.

Interestingly, this school admitted three children under the RTE quota last year and was even given a partial reimbursement of Rs 17,720.

This year, things may not be in their favour as the department officials said they were not aware about what was done last year.

The Commissioner of Department of Public Instruction Uma Shankar was not sure whether this school and similar ones could be provided the Rs 11,848 fee reimbursement per child assured under the RTE Rules, 2012.

 “This is because a majority of the special schools are facilitated by government aid. They automatically become aided schools. If there are stray cases, we will have to think about how they can be accommodated. We will look into the matter,” he said.

Moreover, with every special condition, the requirement of the child’s education tools will also differ. Unlike for the other schools, the government in this case, also has to provide hearing aids and other tools that would support the children’s education.

N Selvam, a parent of a child selected under the quota, said he was relieved that his daughter would get the benefit of government-funded education.

“I am a retired jawan getting a pension of Rs 4,000 a month. While struggling to meet both ends, I somehow managed to put my daughter in a special school. My daughter was not faring well in the mainstream school and used to keep to herself.

Her academic performance has improved now and she mingles with other children too,” he said.

Child rights activist Niranjan Aradhya felt that the government had the responsibility of making space for special schools under the RTE quota.

“The law always states the minimum. There is nothing preventing the government from doing beyond what is specified if it benefits the students,” Aradhya said.

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