Unaided pvt schools ready to fight

Guidelines restrict autonomy, reduce option for parents, say schools

Unaided private schools are in no mood to accept the guidelines on nursery admissions issued by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung last month. They are also disappointed that the Delhi High Court refused to quash the order. 

They claim that the guidelines have severely restricted their autonomy and drastically reduced the option for parents in several parts of the capital.

On January 3, a plea was filed by the Action Committee for Unaided Recognised Private Schools in the Delhi High Court claiming that the guidelines were “absolutely illegal, arbitrary and without jurisdiction”.

“The Department of Education or the Delhi government or in that matter Delhi Lieutenant Governor does not have the power to fix criteria of admission in unaided private schools. It is the question of autonomy whether the Delhi government or Lieutenant Governor enjoys the power to give this kind of order regarding the admission matter,” says S K Bhattacharya, president, Action Committee for Unaided Recognised Private Schools. 

The new guidelines get rid of the 20 per cent management quota in private schools and provide 25 per cent quota for children of economically weaker sections in all schools. One of the key points that the private schools are upset about is the 70 per cent weightage that will be given to the neighbourhood factor while selecting students. Neighbourhood has been defined as areas within 8 km radius of a school.

After the High Court refused to quash the order, the committee appealed before a division bench of the court. The plea is expected to come up for hearing on Monday. “We are disappointed with the order as we were hoping that we will get a stay on the notifications and get some relief,” says Rekha Krishnan, principal of Vasant Valley School.“We need to look at the best interest of students. This constant juggling between schools and the legal system is not good for education,” she says.

Principal of Bal Bharti Public School L V Sehgal says the guidelines are not balanced. “How could they be when all the stakeholders (private schools) were not consulted? They are discriminatory in nature because they do not give schools any say in the admission criteria,” Sehgal adds.

Private school associations are now hoping to talk to Education Minister Manish Sisodia even though his past statements have not been found very encouraging. As far as convent schools are concerned, they are fighting against the EWS quota. Sister Nirmalini, principal of Camel Convent School, says they will also approach court and that their issues are different. 

The LG’s guidelines have called for EWS quota in all schools. However, minority schools, which are unaided and not on government donated land, are not required to reserve seats for EWS as they don’t come under the Right to Education Act.While schools insist that the writ petition is about their fight for autonomy, not everyone feels the same. 

Sumeet Vohra, who runs the portal admissionsnursery.com, says that the writ petition has been filed only because the management quota has been taken away from the private schools, threatening their profits. “The whole problem is because management quota has been done away with. The schools are not concerned about guidelines or students. If the management quota had not been removed, I’m sure they would not have protested against the guidelines at all,” says Vohra.

Lawyer and RTE expert Ashok Agarwal says the management quota was a tool misused by schools. “Management quota gave discretion to schools and their governing bodies. It deprived children of much-needed seats. All these seats were sold out,” he says.It has been found that some schools are breaching the guidelines. A show cause notice was issued by the DoE to BGS International School in south-west Delhi’s Dwarka, VSPK International School in outer Delhi’s Rohini and Prabhu Dayal Public School in north-west Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh. 

They were allegedly putting up guidelines on their websites, which violated the order.

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