The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre and the Delhi government to share details of the steps taken, in the schools aided or established by them, to provide uninterrupted education to the children who lost their parents due to COVID-19 and were not in a position to pay their fees.
Justice Yashwant Varma also asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to submit an affidavit explaining the measures taken to ensure the continued education of orphan students.
The court issued these directions while hearing a plea by two minors, studying at the Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute at Subroto Park here, who lost their father, the only earning member of their family, during the second wave of the pandemic.
The minors stated that the father died in April 2021 while being treated for COVID-19 at a hospital in the Capital. In their plea, filed through their mother, the children requested the court to make sure that their right to education is not prejudiced on account of the non-payment of their school fees.
Earlier this month, the Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute, in an affidavit to the court, had stated that the minors were studying in the school without any interruption. The school said it had not taken any action that could interrupt the education of the minors. Taking a compassionate view of their situation, the school waived the fees of the two minors for one year. However, it had demanded the fees from the two students from this year onwards.
Advocate Bharat Malhotra, representing the minors pro bono, said it was the duty of the government to protect the Right to Education of students in the event of their inability to pay fees due to financial hardships.
Justice Varma noted that the Centre in its affidavit filed in response to the plea had asked the relevant authorities to deal with the subject of continuing the education of children who may have lost one or more of their parents due to COVID-19.
The Delhi government, in its affidavit, stated that the schemes framed by the Central government were being duly implemented. It said that financial assistance was being provided to families who lost their breadwinners in the pandemic through the ‘Mukhyamantri COVID-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayata Yojna’.
It added that two kinds of financial assistance were being provided through this scheme - monthly assistance of Rs. 2500 and one-time assistance of Rs 50,000.
The High Court, however, asked the Delhi government whether any additional measures were been taken by it for the purpose of continuing the education of such children.