Uniforms, shoes, blazers, stationery, books and every other article associated with school will now have to be provided free of cost to every child admitted under the Economically Weaker Sections and Disadvantaged Group category. The twice-amended nursery admission guidelines were tweaked again on Monday to define exactly the entitlements of poor and disadvantaged children so that no loophole can be found by private schools to subvert the provisions of the Right to Education Act in its true spirit.

“My milkman stopped his children from going to school. He said although he didn’t need to pay tuition, the blazer that his children had to wear in their posh school cost him Rs. 1,000 each, which he just could not afford. Many other parents who get in touch with us have similar complaints. Shoes are expensive, textbooks cost too much and all the extra money compels them take their children out of school completely or admit them to some cheaper school,” said Sumit Vohra, who runs the admissionsnursery.com information service.

The new order amending the Delhi School Education (free seats for students belonging to Economically Weaker Sections and Disadvantaged Group) also specifies that minority schools on Delhi Government land will have to admit 20 per cent nursery children under this category as well as maintain the standard 20 per cent quota in every class above the nursery.

Most of the minority schools were granted land based on the criteria that a percentage of the children come from weaker sections. However, many schools allotted different percentages and this matter was also taken to court along with the PIL seeking an amendment to the guidelines. “The provisions of the Right to Education Act were defeated earlier because of the hurdles thrown up by schools. However, these strict guidelines will ensure the poor and disadvantaged children get their due,” said Khagesh Jha, an advocate, who was part of the petition that challenged the guidelines in court.

The Lieutenant-Governor has also clarified certain misconceptions. The five per cent girls’ quota had led some to believe that it would limit the admission of girls to only five per cent of the total seats. However, it was clarified this five per cent was in addition to the open seats making it clearly advantageous to girls.

The L-G has also specified children who belong to the EWS category under the RTE. Accordingly, children from families with an annual income of less than Rs. 1 lakh, children from SC, ST and OBC, orphans, and children with special needs belong to this category.

Another specific provision is that there will be no review of the management quota. “There is a possibility of misuse of this quota and this cannot be accepted in a society that seeks to provide equal opportunity in education for all which includes the weakest of the weak and the poorest of the poor. The intent is to ensure that admission for children will be in a transparent and fair manner,” says a statement from the Directorate of Education.

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