Chennai

RTE reimbursement: parents, schools in a fix

Many schools which took in students under 25 % quota haven't been reimbursed

Sureshkumar*, who got his daughter admitted in a matriculation school under the 25 per cent quota for underprivileged children under the Right to Education Act, is now in a fix. Though the school provided his daughter free education last year, this week, they asked him and other parents who were admitted under the quota to pay the tuition fee for the coming academic year.

“We have been asked to pay the fee by Tuesday. The school has told us that they would refund the cash as soon as they get the reimbursement from the Government. But, it is difficult for us to arrange for close to Rs. 20,000,” said the parent who does plumbing work. Some other parents from the same school said that it was too late to seek admission in another school. “But, we do not want to look for another school since we have not faced any problem so far,” said Raju*, another parent.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 mandates that unaided non-minority private schools reserve 25 per cent seats at the entry level for children from weaker sections of society and disadvantaged groups and provide them free education.

According to the Act, private schools must be reimbursed by the government for the admissions made. In Tamil Nadu, the amount will either be the government’s expenditure per child or the fee fixed by the Fee Determination Committee, whichever is lesser.

However, schools too are in a bind, as they have not received the reimbursement for the past two years.

“It is quite disappointing,” said the vice-principal of a school, who added that they had provided free education as per government rules the past academic year. “We have opened a bank account as directed, but have not received the money. We have our expenses and pay our teachers salaries as per the Sixth Pay Commission. It has put us under a lot of pressure,” she said.

With admissions for seats reserved under the RTE Act set to begin on May 3, activists said that timely reimbursement and verifying if the admissions made are genuine, were crucial.

K. Shanmugavelayutham, convenor, Tamil Nadu Child Rights Observatory, while calling the schools’ concern valid, noted that administrative delays must not come in the way of child rights.

A school education department official said that schools will be reimbursed and that they should not refuse to admit children in the coming admission season.

Those with grievances could contact the Directorate of Matriculation School helpline numbers. They can be contacted by phone on 044-28270169, through an SMS to 9442144401/ 9443574633, or email at dmschennai2010@gmail.com. They can also contact the respective Chief Educational Officers.

* Names of parents have been changed on request.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 1:41:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/rte-reimbursement-parents-schools-in-a-fix/article5926427.ece

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