The Karnataka Government's delay in notifying the State rules for the Right to Education Act has resulted in 44.17 lakh students from classes 1 to 8 being denied a second set of school uniforms, and the lapse of a Central grant of Rs. 88 crore for the purpose.
The Centre had approved a grant of Rs. 88.34 crore to provide a set of school uniforms to all girl students (25.16 lakh) and boys belonging to the Scheduled Castes (6 lakh), the Scheduled Tribes (2.56 lakh) and below the poverty line families (10.44 lakh).
This would have been in addition to the set that is already being given by the Department of Public Instruction to students in government and government-aided schools under the Vidya Vikas scheme.
There were also discussions in the department on whether the State could make an additional allocation of Rs. 12.37 crore to provide a second set of uniforms to 6.18 lakh students who fall in the general category and are already receiving the first set from State, but are not covered by the Central grant.
Though draft rules for the legislation were framed and revised following objections, the final rules are yet to be notified by the Government of Karnataka, and hence the grants made under the Act have lapsed.
The failure of the Government to avail itself of the grant has also attracted the ire of weavers, as material for the uniforms is sourced from the Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation and the Karnataka State Powerloom Development Corporation.
H.S. Ganji, secretary of the Akhila Karnataka Nekarara Vedike (a forum of weavers), has said that it is “injustice” meted out not only to children belonging to deprived sections of society, but also to the weavers who would have benefited if additional material was sourced for the uniforms.
G. Kumar Naik, Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, told The Hindu that the grant was an annually recurring one. “It is not a one-time allocation. We will start receiving it once the rules are published,” he said.