Maharashtra: First RTE kids staring at full fee burden in two years

NAGPUR: In another two and half years, the first batch of students admitted in private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act will lose the privilege of free education. They will have to either pay the full fees or leave their school.

Students who took admission in Std I in 2012-13 will enter Std VII in 2018, which is the threshold for free education under RTE Act. This means 2019, a year when both general and state elections are scheduled, will be the last year of them getting free education. From 2020 onwards, they will have to start paying as they enter Std IX.

For private unaided schools that have been pressing for full payment of RTE bills, this seems a perfect opportunity. They realize the time to build up pressure is now. Sanjay Tayde-Patil, founder of Maharashtra English Schools Trustees Association, said, “On Thursday we will be taking out a morcha in Nagpur to ensure people who matter listen to our demands. For too long, our RTE bills have been kept pending, with just a small fraction being given in phases. The government must understand we cannot function like this. I am sure the government cannot afford the political fallout of so many students being asked to pay up.”

Many expect the government will come up with some amendment to RTE Act that will ensure these students are not left stranded. Tayde-Patil said, “Maybe they will extend free education up to Std X or XII because there’s no way these students will be asked to end their schooling or shift to government schools.”

Consequences of expelling non-paying students is not something even schools want to face. Tayde-Patil said, “We will be painted as villains and hunted by everyone. Hence, we want to include parents in our agitation and make them understand this development is going to affect them two years from now. And after that every year a new batch of students will face the problem.”

MESTA says their immediate strategy is to stop admissions if full RTE reimbursements are not received. “Somebody has to bear the expenses of students admitted under RTE quota and as of now the government is not doing it completely. If we cannot expel students, best way is to stop admissions completely,” said Tayde-Patil.

Source: Times Of India

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