Father says the administration told him to pay the annual fee, saying a refund would be issued when the state government reimburses them
Sarvodaya Vivek Jeevan Vidya Public School in Gadhinglaj city of Kolhapur district
Admission in private schools under the RTE Act’s reservation for the economically weaker section is not guaranteed. A case from Kolhapur district’s Gadhinglaj city is proof of that. A CBSE school there broke two rules at one go—first, it demanded fees and then refused admission when the applicant’s father could not pay.
According to the state government rules, 25 per cent seats at private and public schools are reserved for students from economically weaker sections (EWS), who are entitled to free education, under the RTE Act. The government pays up to Rs 17,000 per student annually until s/he is promoted to Std VIII.
In Gadhinglaj, Ganpat Gaikwad had got confirmation of his daughter’s free admission in Sarvodaya Vivek Jeevan Vidya Public School. However, on Monday, when he went to enrol her in Std I, the administration asked him to pay the full fees. The administration told Gaikwad that the school will refund the fees once it receives the amount from the state government. Instead of succumbing to demands, he approached the state school education department with the help of an NGO.
‘I was happy, but...’
“I was overjoyed when I went to the school to enrol my daughter because it meant she could attend a reputable institution. My joy, however, was short-lived. I was informed that she would get admission only if I paid an annual fee of Rs 40,000 and signed an undertaking to this effect,” Gaikwad told mid-day.
The letter confirming free admission to Ganpat Gaikwad’s daughter under the RTE Act
He added, “I reminded them that my daughter was eligible for free education because she was assigned to their school through a lottery as part of the RTE quota. The management members said that as a charitable organisation, they were unable to provide free education. They said I could complain to whoever I pleased, even the chief minister's office. I was in disbelief. “I request the government to either deposit the fees to the parents’ account or cancel the licences and permissions to such schools. I am sure the school may have rejected many like me,” the father said.
Activists demand action
Education activists have alleged blatant violations of RTE Act. Nitin Dalvi, a representative of the Maharashtra Rajya Vidyarthi-Palak Shikshak Mahasangh, said, “This isn't the first time or the first school to violate the RTE norm. Schools have been coming up with ways to discreetly evade rules. They openly challenge the state government by denying free education under the RTE quota. I demand stringent action against such schools. In the case of Kolhapur school, we have already written to the director of education (primary).” Usha Ubale, Kolhapur education officer (primary), told mid-day, “We received the message about the case on Tuesday morning and I have instructed the group education officer of the zone to visit the school and take appropriate action.
“We will issue a warning and direction to the school to give admission to the child as per the RTE norms. If the management still refuses, we will register an offence against them. Thereafter, the procedure to revoke their permission will be initiated,” Ubale added. “Parents need to come forward and report the RTE violations with the local/block education officers. We will take action. In most cases, people are unaware of the rules and approach the education deputy director and director in Mumbai or Pune directly,” she said. Anuja Belgudari, the administrative director of the school, did not respond to mid-day’s calls and messages for comment.