16,000 private schools across Maharashtra may not reopen on June 15

The schools are tired of the government’s delay in reimbursing fees of students admitted under RTE; say they are facing financial issues due to this

Sixteen thousand private schools across Maharashtra will not reopen on June 15, to protest against the government’s delay in reimbursement of fees of students admitted under the Right To Education (RTE) act. Managements of private unaided schools are complaining that the delay in reimbursement of fees is resulting in financial issues making it difficult for them to run schools. They have to compromise on other activities being offered due to the financial deficit. The managements have not yet decided when they will reopen the schools, of which 800 are in Mumbai.

School managements claim they are forced to shut down extra-curricular activities due to financial issues. Pic for representation
School managements claim they are forced to shut down extra-curricular activities due to financial issues. Pic for representation

The Independent English Schools’ Association (IESA) has taken the decision to not reopen schools to pressurise the government to release the funds (for fees) which have been delayed for more than three years now. Under the RTE act, 25% seats from all private, unaided schools are reserved for children from underprivileged socio-economic background. The government reimburses fees of these students. Private schools have been complaining about delay in reimbursements for couple of years now.

Anil Garg, Vice President of Private Unaided Budget Schools (right) Saket Tiwari of Saket Gyanpeeth
Anil Garg, Vice President of Private Unaided Budget Schools (right) Saket Tiwari of Saket Gyanpeeth

The association has around 16,000 schools across Maharashtra as members, of them around 800 are from Mumbai.

Anil Garg, Vice President of Private Unaided Budget Schools, which is part of IESA said, “We are tired of discussing the issue with the government. They always give assurances. They are not issuing funds for RTE without which it is becoming a burden on managements leading to increase in fees of remaining 75% students."

Saket Tiwari, joint secretary of Saket Gyanpeeth which runs Saket Vidya Mandir, said, “These days private schools have special unique points on which they base their services. It is no longer just education, parents also want additional extra curricular activities for holistic development of their children. But this delay in reimbursement is pinching the pockets of managements forcing them to think about shutting down some facilities.” He further said, “Interactive learning, audiovisual class rooms, use of technology and additional activities such as talent competitions, professional level sports, and art training etc. form unique points of private schools. But with the financial crunch, when even matching teachers’ salaries is becoming difficult, managements have no option but to compromise on these facilities. This also means facing the wrath of parents of those 75% who are willing to pay for additional services.”

Bharat Malik, Vice President of Federation of Unaided Private Schools’ Association of Maharashtra said, “The education minister has quoted how they spend around Rs 30,000 per student in their schools. But they are not even giving us the decided Rs 17,000 per student. How so do they expect us to run schools? We are small organisations or trusts running schools without any support from government. A government school’s teacher earns well and his or her performance is not verified. In our schools, teachers’ performances are verified time and again. We need to pay them well to retain good teachers to maintain quality.”

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