Notorious for violating admissions norms, the sought-after schools in Hyderabad appear not to care much for the Right to Education (RTE) Act as they have ‘completed’ admissions much before they ought to have started the process officially.
Though parents are being asked to come in March, promises have been made and admissions confirmed, especially for nursery and Class I. “There is no sign of the Act anywhere in any school, and the managements are refusing to divulge details,” says Mahender, a private employee, who approached several schools for his son’s admission.
But the problem seems to be with the government itself: it is not yet prepared to implement the Act in letter and in spirit. Fee reimbursement remains the biggest apprehension. Unofficial estimates reveal that the government has to reimburse Rs.18,000 per child a year in Hyderabad, based on the per capita expenditure incurred on it in a government school.
As 8-10 lakh children from Classes I to VIII are covered under the Act, that would mean a huge sum for the government.
Hyderabad District Educational Officer A. Subba Reddy says private schools have been sensitised to the Act through a series of meetings and their apprehensions about fee payment dispelled.
As per the guidelines issued in the Government Order 20, the government has promised to release 50 per cent of the fee in September and the rest in January next.
But given the mess in which the government finds itself over fee reimbursement for engineering and professional courses, schools are hesitating, and they want at least some payment in advance. “We will follow all RTE norms but the government has to give a firm assurance on fees,” says N. Srinivas Reddy, president of the Andhra Pradesh Private Schools Managements Association.
The sought-after schools, including big brands, charge a fee in the range of Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2.5 lakh, while the middle-level schools charge from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 25,000. The top schools are seriously looking at ways of avoiding the RTE admissions, while the reasonably good middle-level schools want a firm commitment on fee reimbursement. And nothing seems to be moving in the right direction for the government to act on erring schools or give an assurance to those that are genuinely willing to follow norms.