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