Manju, 13, did not attend school for almost two years during the closures and lockdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unable to afford the school fee, her father, a factory worker, decided to withdraw her from the private school this year and admit her to a government school. But the private school management is demanding the outstanding dues for two years before issuing her the Transfer Certificate.
“Manju had been attending this private school before lockdown. For two years, the school remained almost shut. Now when I went to school seeking the Transfer Certificate for her, the school demanded pending dues of ₹20,000 and an additional ₹2,000 for the TC. My financial situation has deteriorated after the lockdown and my wages are delayed by two-three months. I cannot afford to send her to the private school or pay the remaining dues to get the TC. She has now dropped out,” said Ramanand, the girl’s father.
He demanded that the government must come to the rescue of poor migrant families like his to help their children get admission in government schools and continue their studies.
The story of Banarasi is no different. For six years, Banarasi, an auto-rickshaw driver, sent both his sons to a private school in Feroze Gandhi Colony here off Basai Road. Not able to make ends meet, he decided to withdraw his sons from the school two months back and admit them to a government school. But to his surprise, he found that the private school was running without an affiliation.
“The TC issued by the private school was not accepted by the government school, because it has been running without affiliation. No government school is willing to admit my sons now. I have approached several education department officials, but they too have not offered any solution,” said Mr. Banarasi, 45.
“Both me and my wife are illiterate. We sent our kids to a private school to ensure better education for them. But now their future is in jeopardy. There are about 150 students studying in this school,” he said.
These are not isolated cases. The children of migrant workers across several colonies in Gurugram are finding it difficult to get admission in government schools for different reasons, including not able to procure the Transfer Certificates from the previous private school.
A volunteer, who is working among the children of migrant workers in colonies along Basai Road, said on condition of anonymity that the families of migrant workers were finding it difficult to admit their children to government schools primarily because the private schools were seeking fee for the entire lockdown period for issuing the TC.
“In many cases, the children neither attended the online classes since the family did not have gadgets nor were they able to physically attend school during this period. But now the school authorities are seeking fee for the entire period saying that they were on the rolls for the two years. The amount runs into several thousands and poor migrant families cannot afford it,” said the volunteer.
She said the interests of the private schools were protected, but nothing was done to protect the interests of the poor migrants. “During lockdown, the Haryana government came with a notification that TC was not mandatory for admission to government schools. But, later, the court overruled it. It has helped the private schools to get their outstanding dues cleared, but the children of poor migrants are now suffering,” she remarked.
The schools are further demanding Parivar Pechan Patra, a Haryana-specific ID, which is a problem for migrant workers. “The lack of space and seats in school is also a constant issue. The concept of “neighbourhood schools” is being used to deny admission to students in other schools when the school in their own neighbourhood is either dilapidated or full,” the volunteer said.