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The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the constitutional validity of the Right to Education Act, 2009, will now make it compulsory for all schools to reserve 25% of their seats for students from economically weaker sections of the society. While the government as well as RTE activists are calling this the much needed push towards free and compulsory education for all, schools are sceptical of the implementation of the various rules prescribed under this Act.
“The policy sounds great on paper but implementation of the same will be difficult as the financial burden will obviously fall on the schools. One needs to check the economic viability of the policy before its implementation,” said Carl Laurie, principal of Christ Church School in Mazgaon. City school principals are worried about many aspects in the implementation of the policy, finance being just one of the problems. Principals also hinted that the financial burden might have to be shared by the remaining 75% students in schools.“The only form of income unaided schools depend on is fees, it will become difficult for us to bear the expenses ourselves. Ultimately, the financial burden will shift on the remainder 75% students,” said Sandeep Goenka, managing trustee of Billabong High International School, Juhu. He said with the recent opposition to fee hikes from parents, there is a worry even that might not be possible. “We (schools) are feeling targeted now. Hopefully parents will understand that the extra expenses will help students from economically backward classes and won’t complain,” he added.Some principals also pointed out that if parents refuse to share this burden, then the schools will be helpless. Some principals also added that students might find it difficult to get along with the curriculum as well as the environment of the school. “Our school follows an international curriculum, which can be very demanding of the student as well as the parents in the higher grades. How does the government expect students from economically weaker sections afford education after class VIII?” questioned Kavita Agarwal, principal of DG Khetan International School in Malad (W). Most principals are still not sure how students will be selected from the neighbourhood based on a lottery system, as prescribed by RTE. When TOI tried to contact members of the Private Unaided Schools Forum, they were unavailable for comments. The happiest at the moment, of course are the private unaided minority institutions that have been spared this rule. “We are very happy that the judiciary understood our plight. We are yet to receive a detailed clarification on how the various provisions of RTE will be implemented in schools,” said Sudeshna Chatterjee, principal of Jamnabai Narsee School, Juhu.
What does this mean for the City?Thanks to the RTE Act, students, irrespective of their economic status, will get an opportunity to study in some of the best schools in the city including in IB schools Private unaided minority schools like Jamnabai Narsee School and Children’s Academy group of schools were exempted by the Supreme Court from this rule A Union HRD ministry note sent to all states in June 2011 had given rough estimates of how much it would cost the government to fund the education of each underprivileged child every year. In Maharashtra, there were 88,717 kids who needed to be admitted that year and the outlay on each was estimated at Rs 5,329.
Courtesy: Times of India
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