After an agonizing wait which lasted three years, schools in Nagpur district finally got reimbursed for the free admissions they gave under the 25% quota of Right To Education (RTE) Act. Till Tuesday afternoon the education department had deposited money into the accounts of 188 schools from the district.
Anil Kohle, primary education officer and RTE in-charge said, “We have reimbursed Rs1.82 crore so far to these schools. There are still around 50 schools remaining, in rural areas, but those too will be completed by next week. Our department had cleared the payment formalities on Saturday itself but the month ending causes delays in transfer to schools’ account.”
While schools heaved a sigh of relief on finally seeing the money for which they had submitted bills in winter of 2012, but there was resentment brewing. The issue on hand was that the state government has cleared money only for financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14. To make it worse, the money reimbursed amounts to only 66% of the bill submitted by schools.
Nana Satpute, who heads Nagpur district wing of Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA), said, “They are paying us the money sent by central government and have withheld their share. So effectively we not only get our dues three years late but also are shortchanged in it. This delay is unacceptable considering we have been following all the norms. Our demand is very simple. The education department must follow the rules and regulations in the same spirit it expects us to. They always tell us that we must follow RTE norms else they will scrap our recognition or take action against us. So when the education department falters on their side of the bargain there should be accountability as well.”
Atmesh Sinha, trustee of the society which manages The Pride School at Hingna, said, “It’s OK that we got some money but it is highly delayed. We have been submitting bills again and again so there is still no clarity among officials on how this is to be taken forward.”
There were many other schools who were unhappy but chose not to speak openly about their frustration with the system. “It’s almost like the government wants us to shut down. We have been operating without 25% revenues for last three years and every school owner will tell you that about 5% of students pay heavily discounted fee, or don’t pay at all, as they come through influential politicians, government officials or local goons. And the remaining 70% who bear the expenses for all and even there we can increase fee hardly up to 15% per annum. Inflation, the real one, is compounding in double digits and we are going into loss each year,” said a school owner.
Schools hope that their pending problems will get solved once they have a discussion straightaway with chief minister Devendra Fadvanis later this month. Satpute said, “On November 28 we are organizing a state-level MESTA meet in Nagpur and the CM will also be attending as chief guest. We hope that he will address the issue and take concrete decisions.”
IN A NUTSHELL: DELAYED PAYMENT
Schools gave admissions for free admission to students who qualified under the criteria laid down by RTE
RTE made it mandatory for every school to reserve 25% of their seats for such students
The particular rule is not applicable to minority schools
The first admission in Maharashtra happened in Nagpur’s South Point School in 2012
Though all schools have been submitting their RTE bills on time since 2012, the government however kept delaying payments
Finally 188 schools in district received Rs1.82 crore as the first instalment
This payment is for financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14
It amounts to only 66% of the total bill submitted
Source: Times of India