Nagpur | Schools balk at giving free books, uniforms to RTE kids

Nagpur: After the education department’s major decision to change the Right to Education (RTE) Act admissions entry level to Std I, friction between schools and activists/parents is slowly erupting. Left totally at the mercy of schools now for nursery and KG sections, activists allege schools have not been keeping their end of the bargain.

A few parents called up TOI on Wednesday claiming that CBSE schools were demanding anywhere between Rs 2,000 -5,000 for books, uniforms and miscellaneous expenditure. An activist, through whom the parents had approached TOI, said, “Poor kids admitted in schools have no financial resources to buy costly books and uniforms. These schools tell them that either they buy in house or purchase it directly from shops. The responsibility of RTE implementation is with schools, hence everything should be provided by them.”

RTE activists said if kids were not given books and uniforms then they would be forced to leave school. That is in violation of RTE Act. The first page on Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry web site of RTE mentions, “Free means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses that may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.” RTE activists, the ilk of whom have cropped up in dozens in the last couple of months, said schools ought to make arrangements for these things.

Schools, however, make it clear that the education department has not mentioned anything about uniforms. “We are giving free admissions even though the reimbursement is low and delayed by three years. From nursery to KG we do not get anything at all. On top of that how could we be spending money on uniform and books? The state should provide it just like they are doing for aided and government schools,” said a principal. Another CBSE principal said, “The parents are very much capable of paying Rs 2,000 in a year. They come to drop their kids on costly bikes, some send kids in autorickshaw and even school van. If they can pay for all these things, I am sure necessities like uniform and books can be taken care of.”

An education official said, “These allegations by RTE activists are now bound to increase as the scales tip in favour of schools. Many times, these complaints are used as a bargaining chip against schools. We are all waiting for the new circular by education department which would clarify this admission mess once for all.”

Source: The Times of India

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