TamilNadu | ‘Don’t Reimburse Private Schools for RTE Admissions’

Coimbatore: The State Platform for Common School System (SPCSS) has submitted a petition to the State Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), against the reimbursement of fees to private schools to facilitate admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, contending that public money cannot be transferred to private entities without any justification and accountability.

Under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, all private, unaided, non-minority schools must reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children belonging to disadvantaged sections of society, and the government will reimburse the expenditure incurred by these schools for this purpose. The School Education Department had recently issued a GO, directing the State Project Director, SSA, to utilise the grant sanctioned for reimbursement of fees to the Unaided, Non-Minority private schools. The association said this was a blatant violation of the Act, and that the parents of these children from marginalised sections of society are being harassed and threatened by the schools. The General Secretary of SPCSS, Prince Gajendra Babu, questioned as to why no action was taken by the TN Government against the schools for not implementing the provisions of the Act.

The SPCSS requested the project director not to make any reimbursement until a thorough enquiry is carried out and a clear assurance on the reimbursement of money by the Centre to the State secured.

Source: The New Indian Express

Tiruchirapalli | Education officials hold orientation programme for schools on RTE

Tiruchirapalli: With the standoff between the State government and private schools coming to an end following the recent Government Order on reimbursing fees to schools, the Right to Education Act (RTE Act), 2009, is set to make an impact among the underprivileged children.

The Education Department has conducted a couple of orientation programmes for heads and principals of various private schools on the need to allocate 25 per cent of seats in L.K.G and Class 1 to the poor students.

They were clearly explained about the consequences if they failed to follow the provisions of the RTE Act. They were told that they should not fill the quota through the general admission system that they were being followed by respective schools. The department has identified about 3,300 seats in 325 schools in the Tiruchi district under the RTE Act quota. To facilitate the poor and marginalised children getting admission in non-minority self-financing private schools, it has started collecting applications from the interested parents.

The Chief Educational Officer, N. Anandi, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the government was keen on passing the benefits of the RTE Act. It had achieved 87 per cent result on filling seats under the RTE quota. All out efforts were made to fill all seats this year.

Stating that the department had received good response from the parents this year, she said the last date for submission of applications for admission under the RTE Act had been extended up to June 15.

Besides submitting the applications at the education offices, they could submit in the respective schools. If applications crossed the actual number of seats, random system would be followed to select students.

She added that circulars had been sent to all schools on the need for strictly following the provisions of RTE Act. Schools should not give room for subverting the Act.

Source: The Hindu

TamilNadu | Admission to schools under RTE extended to June 15

Chennai: The last date for submission of applications for admissions under the Right to Education Act 2009 in non-minority self-financing schools in LKG and Standard I for weaker sections has been extended up to June 15, according to an Education Department press release. Application forms can be obtained from the offices of the District Elementary Education Officer, Inspector of Matriculation Schools, Chief Educational Officer and all assistant elementary education officers and respective schools, the release added. — Special Correspondent

Source: The Hindu

TamilNadu| Private schools welcome G.O. on RTE Act fee reimbursement

Coimbatore: With funds sanctioned to reimburse the private schools for the fees of students admitted under the Right To Education Act, the district administration convened a meeting on Monday to discuss the admissions for the next academic year.

District Collector Archana Patnaik told the heads of schools that they would be reimbursed as early as possible the fees for the students admitted in the past two years under the RTE Act quota. The academic year of 2015-16 would mark the fourth year of admitting students under the RTE Act.

Private schools are mandated to set aside 25 per cent of their total seats for students from disadvantaged groups or weaker sections free of cost with their fee to be reimbursed by the Central and State Governments.

R. Visalakshi, president of Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association, said that the allocation of funds would make the schools adopt a positive approach to admissions this year.

However, she noted that the funds only cover the fees and not the accessories given by the schools.

Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Welfare Association general secretary G. Krishnaraj said that the State Government should expedite the reimbursement.

However, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Young Wing secretary V. Eswaran said that with funds now sanctioned, the last date for submitting application forms must extended.

Source: The Hindu

TamilNadu | Government Releases Rs 97cr, Private Schools Can’t Refuse RTE Intake

Chennai: With the State Government issuing an order to reimburse Rs 97.04 crore to private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the latter can no longer cite reasons for not enrolling students under the RTE Act, from the coming academic year.

The private schools had, last month, expressed apprehension in admitting students under the RTE Act from the coming academic year since funds for two academic years – Rs 25.13 crore for 2013-14 and Rs 71.19 crore – had not been compensated by the government. The Tamil Nadu government had written to the Centre earlier this month, stating that the changes made to the SSA framework had resulted in non-reimbursement of expenditure incurred by schools in Tamil Nadu, amounting to Rs 97.04 crore.

On Saturday, the government issued orders sanctioning the amount to be reimbursed to the schools.

According to the Act, 25 per cent of the seats in private schools need to be reserved for disadvantaged children – children whose parents’ total yearly income comes to less than Rs 2 lakh or students from SC/ST or other backward classes, and transgenders. However, RTE activists seek more transparency in the admission procedure and calculating expenditure, pointing out that there were no specific allocations or demarcations that were made while disbursing the funds.

“The argument is that the schools can enroll whoever they want to without verifying the background and get the amount reimbursed. The question therefore is how the calculation was made and the amount arrived at. Was the procedure transparent?” questioned Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary, State Platform for Common Schooling System. He added that no clear demarcations with respect to issuing uniform, textbooks and notebooks were made. S Arumainathan, president, Tamil Nadu Student Parent Welfare Association, alleged that there were a few schools which had refused to enroll children under the RTE Act in the past two years citing lack of funds. “There are cases of schools not implementing the Act,” he said.

When contacted, an official from the School Education Department said the admissions were actually transparent, with little space for schools to escape the Act. The official added that around 90,000 had enrolled in schools under the RTE Act last academic year.

Source: The New Indian Express

Chennai | PIL wants single window admissions under RTE

Chennai: Striking at the very root of the fundamental right of underprivileged children to free and compulsory education, an association of private schools has decided not to admit students under the RTE Act, a PIL said. It also wants RTE admissions to be made into a transparent online single window exercise.

A vacation bench of Madras high court comprising Justice R Subbiah and Justice K Ravichandrabaabu issued notices, returnable in two weeks. The PIL filed by ChangeIndia said the Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation, Higher Secondary and CBSE Schools’ Association has decided not to reserve 25% seats for underprivileged children as required under the RTE Act. The association said its members were forced to take the decision because the government was yet to reimburse 150 crore to schools which admitted students under the Act.

As per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which came into force on April 1, 2010, schools must reserve 25% seats for students from weaker sections of society, free of cost. The fee would be reimbursed by the state and central governments annually.

In the PIL, ChangeIndia director A Narayanan said the resolution was unconstitutional and would amount to contempt of court as well. “There is an imminent danger of not only denial of admissions to students of disadvantaged groups at entry level classes this year, but such students admitted in previous years in so-called unaided non-profit schools may also be forced to either pay fees or drop out of schools,” he said.

In this regard, he said the Tamil Nadu government had written to the Centre on May 5 seeking disbursal of Rs 97.04 crore towards reimbursement of fees of students admitted under RTE.

Describing the association’s resolution as an open challenge to the authorities, Narayanan said the fundamental right of children should not be infringed upon at any cost. Charging school managers with taking advantage of the current situation, the PIL said any further delay in resolving the issue would result in managements while admitting students to seats meant for RTE beneficiaries. He also wanted the court to create a transparent online single window method to monitor and streamline RTE admissions. The PIL also wanted the court to make arrangements for free books and uniforms.

Source: The Times of India

Chennai | RTE deadlines loom but schools decline forms

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Even though schools have been asked to start admissions under the provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), most institutions in the city are refusing to accept new applications.

Current students too are being asked to pay backlog fees, activists say. School managements continue to insist that they will admit students through RTE only if the government reimburses them for those students already admitted. According to the Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation, Higher Secondary Schools and CBSE Schools Association, the government owes private schools a sum of Rs. 150 crore. “Until the government pays us the money, it is difficult for schools to continue to support admissions under RTE,” a school principal said.

Latha (name changed), whose son studies in a school in Chetpet, said the management asked her for two years’ fee. “They have told us that we will be reimbursed once the school receives money from the government, but the only reason we opted for RTE admission was that we could not afford the fees for such a prestigious school,” she said.

A. Sreenivas of Becoming I Foundation said: “We have been referring parents to the Chief Education Officer, but even government officials have not been able to help.” The Foundation has been working with the organisation Bhumi to increase awareness on RTE admissions across the city.

Although some schools have displayed the board announcing the RTE results, most schools have not. “For the past two days, we have been asking parents to get application forms, but schools are not issuing them,” said N. Umapathy, Slum Children’s Sport Talent Education Development. His team has been working with students in Vyasarpadi to encourage them to apply to schools under RTE.

“There is very little awareness on RTE admissions and norms to be followed. The government needs to publicise RTE admissions better,” he adds.

Some schools, however, have started the free admissions.  B. Purushothaman, senior principal, Everwin Group, said schools can make a profit, even if they provide free education to poor students.

School Education Department officials said they were looking into cases of violation of the Act. The State government had written to the centre asking for funds to be released for RTE admissions, but they were yet to receive it. They added that the amount is not Rs. 150 crore as claimed by school managements.

 

Source: The Hindu

Chennai | Panneerselvam seeks Rs. 100 cr. for RTE Act implementation

Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam has sought nearly Rs. 100 crore from the Centre to implement the Right To Education Act in Tamil Nadu.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, he said the Central government had to reimburse Rs. 97.04 crore to Tamil Nadu for expenses incurred on admitting students from weak and disadvantaged sections to private schools.

The RTE Act mandates reservation of 25 per cent of seats at entry level for such students in private schools.

Since 2013, as many as 1,36, 593 children in Tamil Nadu have been admitted to private schools under the RTE Act, according to the Chief Minister.

‘MHRD has not reimbursed’

The Tamil Nadu government notified the RTE Act in 2011. As a follow up, 49,864 children were admitted in 2013-14. The admissions were made either in pre-school or in Class I.

The private schools submitted their claims for reimbursement to the government amounting to Rs 25.13 crore and Rs 71.91 crore for 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively.

When the SSA State director wrote to the MHRD on October 2013 for reimbursement for Rs 25.13 crore, there was no response, the Chief Minister said.

Despite this, 86,729 children were admitted under the RTE in 2014-15 by private schools due to the persuasion of the State government. In the meantime, the MHRD wrote to all State governments indicating that the reimbursement would be effective from April 1, 2014.

Besides, the governments were communicated that it would be only for Classes I to VIII and subject to maximum ceiling of 20 per cent of the total annual work plan and budget approved by the Centre for each State under SSA.

‘Unilateral and arbitrary’

Based on these unilateral and arbitrary amendments to the SSA framework, the Tamil Nadu’s claim of Rs 25.13 crore was not admitted. Further, the claim of Rs 71.57 crore for 2014-15 has been restricted to a measly amount of Rs 14 lakh, the Chief Minister pointed out.

This restriction was because of the new framework making expenditure incurred on children enrolled in Class I and upwards eligible for reimbursement.

“This is a completely arbitrary restriction and violates the provisions of Section 12(1)(c) of the Act, which provides for admitting children from disadvantaged sections in pre-schools as well,” he said.

In Tamil Nadu, hardly any private school admits children in Class I and children are invariably admitted in pre-KG. “If a child is not admitted I n the school at this stage, it will be very difficult for the child to secure admission in Class I,” he noted.

Tamil Nadu committed

Blaming the previous UPA regime for not being serious in implementing the RTE Act in letter and spirit and effecting the changes in the SSA framework, he said emphasising that if the MHRD did not change its obdurate stance the future of 1.36 lakh children could be in jeopardy.

Stating that the Tamil Nadu government would continue to admit children under the RTE Act this academic year also, he sought the Prime Minister’s personal intervention to get MHRD to reimburse Rs 97.04 crore due to the State immediately.

Source: The Hindu

Tamilnadu | School admission under RTE Act: Helpline launched

Chennai: Bhumi, a non-profit organisation, has launched a helpline for the benefit of students who seek admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Volunteers at the helpline would help answer queries relating to RTE and help facilitate admissions in schools for underprivileged children.

Prahalathan of Bhumi said that parents should give a missed call to the helpline (8144-22-4444) and volunteers would call them back to help.

“We have been conducting campaigns in slum areas close to about 300 private schools in Chennai city alone about the helpline,” he said. The helpline could be reached from other states as well.

Bhumi has also initiated an online petition to implement a fair and transparent RTE admission process for the poor in private schools where they have got about 1,531 signatures.

“Karnataka has taken RTE admissions online. That’s not the case in Tamil Nadu. We initiated online petition to bring transparent online admission process,” Prahalathan added.

An estimated 1.43 lakh free seats are available for the poor and backward communities in Tamil Nadu alone.

Source: The Times of India

Coimbatore | Educationists Pick Holes in State Order on RTE Payment

Coimbatore: The State government’s order of providing the expenditure per child to reimburse private schools for admissions made under the RTE quota does not mention LKG expenses, defeating the very purpose of the legislation, say eductionists.

The GO 22 specifies the per-child expenditure incurred by the State government for 2014-15 from Class I to VIII, but does not give the reimbursement charges for LKG.

The Right to Education (RTE) Act enjoins that all private, non-minority, unaided schools must reserve 25 percent seats for children belonging to weaker sections.

According to the Tamil Nadu RTE Rules, the State government will reimburse the schools for these admissions. The amount will be either the State’s per-child expenditure in government schools or the fee fixed by the Private School Fee Determination Committee, whichever is less.

Education Secretary D Sabitha, speaking to Express over phone said that the Section (12)(2) of the RTE Act will be adopted for reimbursement of LKG expenditure.

In this case, the government will consider the fee fixed by the Singaravelan (Private Schools) Fee Determination Committee. But committee has fixed only the tuition fee and does not include expenditure for uniforms, textbooks and other study materials.

Section (3)(2) of the RTE Act states that no child is liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses, which may prevent the student from pursuing and completing elementary education. The Tamil Nadu RTE Rules state that children admitted under the RTE quota shall be entitled to free textbooks, writing materials and uniforms.

Educationist Prince Gajendra Babu said that the very purpose of the RTE Act — providing free and compulsory education— gets defeated as private schools are now entitled to collect fees for uniforms, textbooks and other study materials.

S Arumainathan, state president, Tamil Nadu Students-Parents Welfare Association said that most private schools charge fees up to `5,000 for uniforms, textbooks, etc, which parents from weaker sections will find difficult to pay.

Educationists say that since there is no financial memorandum clearly explaining the responsibility, governments are trying to shift the blame.

They also want the government to focus more on strengthening state-run schools instead of going after private schools.

Source: The Times of India