State to look into allegation of tuition fee for Dalit students
The State government has sought report from District Adi Dravidar Welfare Officers across the State on the issue of collecting tuition fee from Dalit students.
The government’s communication, sent on March 11, was in response to the directive by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on March 5 to the Secretary of the State Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department to look into allegations regarding six colleges in various parts of the State, according to S. Karuppiah, State joint secretary of the Dalit Liberation Movement – Tamil Nadu, which preferred a complaint with the NCST after carrying out a study in six districts.
The government had asked the colleges concerned to send their responses. The Commission also addressed the issue to District Collectors of Madurai, Karur and Theni. The colleges in question were located in the districts of Theni, Madurai, Karur, Tiruppur, Coimbatore and Tiruvannamalai.
According to the complaint of the Madurai-based NGO, the colleges compelled Dalit students to pay tuition fee even though they were covered under the State government scheme, which take care of the entire “compulsorily payable fees”, including the tuition fee fixed by the government-constituted committee. The scheme came into effect from 2011-2012. The important condition for students to avail themselves of the benefit is that their annual family income should be less than Rs. 2 lakh.
A government order defines the compulsory non-refundable fees as what is paid by students towards registration/enrolment, tuition, games, union and library membership and medical examination.
A study conducted by the Dalit Liberation Movement in December 2012 and January 2013 revealed that students were forced to pay the tuition fee. “This was against the State government’s order,” Mr Karuppaiah said, adding that over 450 Dalit students of the six colleges were covered.
A paramedical training institute in Madurai city has allegedly collected tuition fees. So did an engineering college in Tiruppur. The college administration, under the pretext of arranging educational loans, even secured personal loans for students through a private bank, he said.
“The parents of the students who were given Rs. 3 lakh loan have to repay Rs. 7 lakh, including interest for four years,” he added.