Pvt schools want parents of RTE kids to pay for books, uniforms

Cite Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan booklet to fleece them

Pvt schools want parents of RTE kids to pay for books, uniforms

 Private schools seem to have found new ways of making things difficult for children admitted under the Right To Education (RTE) quota.

This time, they are wielding an information booklet of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) as the weapon to fleece parents. Unable to bear the huge fees demanded by schools, many parents are considering sending their children back to government schools.

While RTE Rules, 2012, stipulate that children should be given free textbooks and uniforms, and the government reimburse their entire tuition fee, the SSA booklet states otherwise. The information booklet, compiled in Kannada by the SSA, was circulated to schools by the Department of Public Instruction.

It wrongly states that free textbooks and uniforms may be given to students if the school has a practice of giving free books and uniforms to all its students. Since no unaided institution has the practice of doling out books and uniforms for free, schools are using this as an excuse to demand extra fee.

Section 5 (1) of the RTE Rules states that children who get seats under the reservation provision are entitled to free textbooks, writing material and uniforms. Further, under ‘Responsibilities of schools and teachers’ in Part IV of the Rules, it is stated that these children “shall not be discriminated from the rest of the children in any manner in respect of entitlements and facilities such as textbooks, uniforms, library, ICT facilities, co-curricular programme and sports.” Section 8 (1) mentions that children admitted under the quota of disadvantaged group and weaker section “shall not be levied any other fee, charges or expenses by the school.”

‘Looking for govt school’

Parents from poor financial background, who believed that the RTE reservation assured quality education to their children, now feel they were better off without it. Narrating the harassment meted out by the school, Bharathi, whose daughter is in class 2 at a CBSE school in Kurubarahalli, said: “Last year, we paid Rs 9,000 as donation. We didn’t know that uniform and textbooks were free. When we came to know about it, we confronted the school and refused to pay extra fee for this year. However, the school is pressurising us too much.” Bharathi works as a domestic help and her husband is a mechanic.

The school has demanded Rs 12,600 for textbooks and uniforms. It told the parents that if they do not purchase them soon, books will be sold out and their child might not be able to attend classes. “My child was also beaten by the teacher for not wearing uniform. We are thinking of withdrawing our daughter from the school and sending her to a government school instead.”

‘Info book outdated’

A DPI official has said the information book was “irrelevant and outdated. What the schools are circulating is not a government order or circular. Those are answers to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) which were released in the handbook when the rules were framed to create awareness. Schools should not use this as an excuse to misguide parents.”

Ironically, Block Education Officers (BEO) and Deputy Directors of Public Instruction (DDPI) who are expected to guide the parents appear to be ignorant of the provisions under the RTE Rules, as they have written to higher officials in the department, seeking clarity in this regard.
All the complaints by parents have fallen on deaf ears, even as schools continue to harass them.

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