Meeting expenses for poor students for 2013-14 poses a challenge

Some of the private unaided schools in Tiruchi region, including a few CBSE schools, which sought to follow the requirements of the Right to Education Act 2009 with effect from 2012-13, particularly with respect to admitting 25 per cent of students from economically weaker section and disadvantaged groups, find themselves in an unenviable situation.

The CBSE’s academic calendar requires institutions to complete the admission process within the next few weeks. The schools are confronted with the challenge of meeting the expenses for the poor students for 2013-14 with the government yet to release funds for last year’s admissions under the RTE Act.

In Tamil Nadu, children from families with annual income of less than Rs. 2 lakh are eligible to get admission under the RTE quota. As per the RTE, free education does not just stop with waiving tuition fee. The schools are required to provide them with textbooks, writing material, uniforms, transportation, and other expenses such that they receive education on par with general merit candidates. With the government not releasing the funds for the last year’s admissions, school managements apprehend that the soaring per-child expenditure will negatively impact their finances.

In fact, while the RTE Act mandates free and compulsory primary education for children in the age group of six to 14, a couple of CBSE schools in the city admitted children for LKG when they are only four.

Though an amendment was awaited in this respect, the schools were quick to realise the shortcoming in the Act and took it upon themselves to identify students of the ideal age from the economically weaker sections for admission into the entry level of Pre-KG or LKG last year.

“Our readiness to adhere to the guidelines scrupulously in the interest of the nation must be encouraged with reciprocal action by the government in the form of timely disbursal of funds for the expenditure that we incur during the year,” a correspondent of a CBSE school in the city said.

According to official sources, the government is devising the methodology for schools to claim the reimbursement for children admitted under the 25 per cent quota.

The State government has to work out per-learner cost by adding up the recurring expenditure in a year from its own and central funds including midday meal, and divide it by all the children enrolled in its schools.

“Unaided schools admitting children under the 25 per cent quota will be reimbursed the costs at this rate or its usual annual fee, whichever is less,” said R. Pitchai, Director (in-charge) of matriculation schools and the Chief Nodal Officer of the State-level monitoring cell mandated with the task of coordinating with the various directorates to monitor implementation of the RTE Act.

Enquiries indicated that the Centre was yet to release the reimbursable amount to States for disbursal to unaided private schools.