Schools Say Govt Reimbursements Not Even 15% Of What They SpendKrittika.Sharma@timesgroup.com
New Delhi: Students from economically weaker sections may be seeking admissions in private schools through the freeship quota, but nothing is free for the parents. Every year, activists and experts are flooded with complaints about schools asking for money to give such students books, uniform, or even admission. Schools, on the other hand, claim that the reimbursement given to them is too little to pay for the 25% EWS quota.
According to Right to Education Act, the government is supposed to reimburse a private school with either the school fees, or the amount spent on children in its government schools, whichever is less. In most cases, Delhi government through directorate of education transfers a lump sum to private school at the end of the year as reimbursement.
Schools feel that this amount is too little. “This is not even 15% of what we actually spend on our children,” said Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal of Springdales, Pusa Road. “The school uniforms for summer and winter cost money. For books, we get between Rs 300 and Rs 600 per year depending on the class and this
amount also goes directly to the children,” she added.
Priyank Kunoongo of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the implementing body of Right to Education Act, said, “Delhi is one of the few states that give hefty reimbursement for EWS quota. Schools in states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh get less than Rs 4,200 per student yearly. Yet, Rajasthan managed to make 6 lakh EWS admissions last year.”
Wattal complained that several schools don’t get reimbursed by the government on time. “My school was given its due for 2014-15 and 2015-16 in one go, but no payment has been made for the next two sessions,” she added.
However, the government disagreed. “The schools that have applied for reimbursements have been paid,” said Atishi Marlena, advisor to education minister Manish Sisodia. “In fact, several schools, especially those on DDA land with a lease rider on taking EWS kids, don’t apply at all. Such schools took the land on the condition that 20% of the cost on EWS students will be borne by them. They do not apply for the remaining 5% because maybe they don’t feel the need to,” she added.
Kunoongo said that a survey conducted a few months ago showed that most private schools don’t apply for reimbursements. “Education has to be affordable for everybody. But private schools charge fees under various heads. They also cannot ask students to get self-published books, except for prescribed NCERT textbooks. They take money for activities like art classes, which should not be mandatory,” he added.