Going gets tough for schools as govt delays RTE funds

Unaided schools, which are entitled to reimbursements under the Right To Education (RTE) Act, are not receiving funds to the full extent, which is causing a lot of inconvenience to them, school managements have said.

The State government is releasing only partial reimbursements and the remaining amounts are likely to be given to schools only by January 2016. While the delay in granting total reimbursement amounts to schools is a major concern for managements, even the funds given are not being distributed properly, Shashi Kumar D of Karnataka Private School Management Federation told Deccan Herald.

In fact, the funds released now are towards reimbursement for previous academic year (2013-14).

“In the first place, releasing reimbursements after the completion of one whole academic year makes it difficult for the managements. Even if the funds are released now, it will reach schools only after three months. So technically, schools get their reimbursements only after a year and a half,” Kumar said.

Kumar said that this was unfair because the salaries for faculty and other school expenditure would have gone up in a year’s time. “Over the last four years, the reimbursement amount remains the same, but expenses have gone up by at least 15 to 20 per cent. The average amount given to schools has only been Rs 6,000. All these are burdening the budgets of schools.”

Recently, Rs 151.67 crore was released towards reimbursement of fees to unaided schools. The reimbursement per child for nursery classes is Rs 5,924 and that for classes above class one is Rs 11,848.

According to rules, if the school is charging a fee less than what is fixed for reimbursement, they are entitled to receive only that amount from the government. In several cases, the Block Education Officers (BEOs) have released more than what the schools are entitled for and are now asking them to return excess funds. Not just this, school representatives said that BEOs were asking schools for a 10 per cent share in reimbursements.

Letter to govt
Members of the Karnataka Private School Management Federation are planning to write a letter to the government to bring these irregularities to its notice.

They are planning to go to court if they do not receive a proper response, said Kumar.
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has issued a circular, directing BEOs to ensure students who have joined schools under the reservation provision are studying in the schools. Apart from this, they have been asked to keep tabs on the audit reports of schools, based on which funds are given. “As of now, no irregularities have come to my notice. But if something comes to my notice, action will be taken,” said K S Satyamurthy, commissioner, DPI.

It would be a challenging task to test the accuracy of audit reports in each school. The government should consider releasing funds in one phase and as early as possible, to encourage schools to implement the RTE Act, said Niranjanaradhya V P, senior fellow, Centre for Child and Law, National Law School of India University.

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