PUNE: The Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA) has decided not to reserve 25% seats at the pre-primary level for students belonging to the economically backward sections of society under the right to education (RTE) Act.
The decision comes after a recent state government resolution (GR) notified that schools will receive reimbursement against such seats only from class I. The association, which has more than 8,000 schools from across the state under its wing, launched a state-wide protest on Tuesday opposing the GR.
An official circular was issued in April last year regarding the reimbursement. State director of primary education Mahavir Mane said, “Section 12 of the RTE of the state government clearly states that the government will reimburse fees of students admitted under the 25% reservation quota only from class I. Schools that start from nursery must admit students at that level and provide free education.”
Educational institutions have expressed dissatisfaction about the circular, saying they were not ready to bear the expenses under RTE at the pre-primary level. Addressing a news conference here on Tuesday, MESTA founder president Sanjay Tayade Patil said, “We have not been getting reimbursements on a regular basis for admissions done over the past three years. On top of that, we now also have to pay for the pre-primary education of students admitted under the 25% quota.”
When contacted, commissioner of education Purshottam Bhapkar said, “A policy decision needs to be taken in this regard. We will hear the grievances of the association and set up a meeting with all stakeholders, including the minister of education. However, schools cannot do away with the RTE rules and regulations. They will have to implement them effectively.”
Patil claimed that all its member schools were supporting the association’s decision. The schools get Rs 14,600 for every student admitted under the RTE scheme annually. The association members said the reimbursement was way too low for the kind of facilities that the schools provide.
“The government has not considered the infrastructure and other facilities that the schools provide. We don’t know on what basis they have decided upon this reimbursement,” said Shridhar Sainath, district secretary of the association.
State government view
The RTE Act is applicable for students aged between 6 and 14. Technically, therefore, class I students come under the purview of the Act. However, schools which have a pre-primary section attached to the primary section have to consider nursery as the entry level and reserve 25% seats under the Act. The state government receives reimbursements from the Union government under the Act only for students from class I. Hence, the state government’s GR mentions reimbursement only for students from class I onwards.
School managements’ view
With the state government offering reimbursements only for students from class I under the RTE Act, schools are being forced to bear the fees of such students at the pre-primary level. The school managements say that either the fees should be reimbursed from the entry level if the school has a pre-primary section or then the 25% quota be filled only from class I onwards.
Source: Times of India