Three children of casual workers who were prevented from entering the classroom as they did not pay the school fees, can now attend classes thanks to a Madras High Court order.

The court has directed the authorities to supply free books and uniforms to the children. It was open to the schools to claim the fee payable by the petitioners' children from the government under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RCFCEA). The petitioners K. Sivakumar and P. Mohan, said they belonged to the Scheduled Caste community and were daily wage earners. While Mr. Sivakumar's son Latchumana Kumar was studying in class I in Ramakrishnan Matriculation School, Veppur in Cuddalore district, the sons of Mr. Mohan, M.Vishnu and M. Sathya, were studying Standards VI and IV in Bharatha Vidyalaya Matriculation School, Thandalam Thiruporur in Kancheepuram district. The petitioners alleged that their children were not allowed to enter the classroom as they had not paid the school fees. They were not provided uniform and free textbooks as announced by the Tamil Nadu government, till date.

The petitioners' counsel, M.Pari, contended that under the RCFCEA, every child up to 14 years was entitled to get free and compulsory education in the neighbourhood school, even in unaided schools.

Children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections had also been included in the legislation for the purpose of free education. The rules had not been issued by the Tamil Nadu government directing the unaided managements to reserve 25 per cent of the strength for weaker sections without collecting any fee.

Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar said since the petitioners were poor, they were unable to pay the school fee. He directed both the schools to allow the three children to attend classes. He also gave the further directions. The schools could claim the fees after getting further orders from the court. The court has posted the matter for November 21.

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