‘Some have been forced to shell out Rs. 6,000 already’

Education may be free for children admitted to private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, but this hasn’t stopped the schools from finding newer ways of charging their parents.

Several parents on Sunday complained to the RTE task force that they were being forced to shell out additional money under various heads. While Rs. 450 was being collected every month for transport, Rs. 1,500 was collected for uniforms and Rs. 1,500 was collected for books, a parent, who did not want to be named, told the task force.

Another parent said the school conducted Bharatanatyam classes for children at a cost of Rs. 2,000, which the family could not afford, resulting in the child being depressed over being left out of the classes.

Complaints

Having heard their grievances during the release of the RTE diary and logo here, convener of the task force Nagasimha G. Rao said it would lodge a complaint with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.

Why should they pay?

“When education is free under RTE, why should the parents pay? Although government pays Rs. 11,500 a student a year, some parents have been forced to shell out around Rs. 6,000 already when they cannot afford such expenditure,” Mr. Rao told The Hindu.

Different schools are coming out with different ways to charge the parents of children admitted under the RTE quota, he added.

Further, he said that it was not only parents who were finding it difficult, but also the task force.

A private school turned away the task force members when they wanted to visit the school, he said. “We have brought this to the notice of the Block Education Officer, who has promised us that notice would be served on the school,” he added.

Action plan

Meanwhile, the RTE task force has put out its action plan, which includes training parents so as to empower them, and forming associations of parents of children admitted under the RTE quota, to effectively monitor the implementation of the Act in schools.

Training parents was important because they fear that their children would be targeted if they raise grievances, he said, adding that the task force wanted to make parents RTE activists.

Meeting with parents

“The task force would also meet the parents (about 120) every third Sunday of the month to discuss problems and measures,” Mr. Rao said.

About 60 parents attended the programme on Sunday.