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Take back RTE kids or face action: BMC to Goregaon school

Civic body has sent notice to MTS Khalsa High School, which had asked eight RTE kids to start paying fees or leave the school, asking it to let the children attend classes

Six-year-old Sunil (name changed) has been waiting to meet his school friends ever since the school reopened after the summer holidays, more than two weeks ago.

Six of the eight kids who had just begun Std I and are now being thrown out
Six of the eight kids who had just begun Std I and are now being thrown out

Sunil, an RTE quota student, has been studying in the school since kindergarten and was supposed to begin Std I, but he is not being allowed to attend classes anymore. His parents, who cannot afford his school fees, have been asked to start paying the fees or find another school for free education.

Sunil is one of eight children who had sought admission at Goregaon’s MTS Khalsa High School in 2012 under the RTE reservation quota. A year later, the school received minority status and when the new academic year began, the parents of the eight kids were told to pay the fees like other children, or look out for admission elsewhere.

When mid-day had reported about this on June 19 (‘Pay fees or leave, Mumbai school tells eight RTE students’), the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) had taken suo motu cognisance of the matter the same day and sent a notice to the school.

The BMC education department had also insisted that the school could not ask the children, who are entitled to study there without paying fees till Std VIII, to start paying the fees or leave.

On Monday, the BMC education department sent a notice to the school, ordering them to take back the children, but there has been no change as yet. “We were told that now that the school has minority status, it doesn’t have to follow the RTE guidelines.

My son finished his kindergarten and, on the day his Sr KG marksheets were distributed, the school management told us to start paying fees, along with a donation, or leave the school,” said the father of one of the kids. The students were allowed to attend school the day it reopened, but the class teachers were given strict instructions not to allow these children in class from the next day.

Take heed
The education department has clearly stated that if the school did not have minority status at the time of giving admissions to the students, they are bound to continue providing them free education till Std VIII. “We have already sent a notice to the school and told them that they have to continue providing free education to these children till the end of elementary education (Class VIII).

If the school flouts rules, they will face serious action,” said a senior official from BMC education department. He added that permissions that help the school management run the institution may be withdrawn and the worst-case scenario could see the school losing its affiliation to the state board.

Avisha Kulkarni, from NGO Desh Seva Samiti, who had helped these children get admission in 2012, is planning to meet officials from the office of the deputy director of education in order to get them help.

“I have met education officials and made sure that they take action against the school but, clearly, the department’s order has not made any difference to the school. All eight children are still at home and the parents are helpless,” said Kulkarni. She said BMC have assured her that action will be taken against the school.

The other side
When mid-day had spoken to the school principal Ram Krishnan, he had said, “Last year, even though we had received the minority status, we allowed these children to study for free. This year we told them in advance that they should look for admission elsewhere through RTE online admissions.

With our minority status, we don’t have to allow reservation quota admissions anymore.” When we tried contacting the school management yesterday, however, they refused to comment on the issue.

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