Pune: Pay for stationery and uniform or manage on your own, schools in the city have told parents of beneficiary students admitted under 25% reservation scheme of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
Despite clear provisions under the RTE Act, which makes it mandatory for schools to provide free books and uniforms to students belonging to the economically weaker sections of society, parents have alleged that schools have been demanding money, up to Rs 5,000, for uniform and stationery.
If parents fail to pay the amount, schools avoid sending daily worksheets to the children, even refraining from providing the child’s progress report. A meeting of parents, particularly of wards benefiting from RTE, was held on Wednesday wherein parents raised these issues.
Sagar Danke, a driver with a firm in Pimpri, said, “My daughter was admitted to the nursery section last year and the school co-operated throughout. I did not have to pay any money throughout the year. But when she moved to junior kindergarten this year, the school has been asking to pay towards the stationery and uniform. The class teacher has asked me to pay Rs 3,500 since the school term began. When said that as a beneficiary of RTE, the school has to provide stationery and uniform, the teacher refused to accept my case.”
Danke claims that the teacher asks for the money every time he picks up his daughter from the school. At a parent-teacher meeting, on Saturday, Danke was given a piece of paper, which listed the activities done by children in school, while all other parents were handed worksheets and files along with a progress card.
Over 100 parents of students, who were admitted under the 25% reservation scheme, raised their grievances regarding schools allegedly forcing parents to pay the money. “Even government officials have shown apathy in this matter. When we protest, officials ask us why we are complaining and whether getting free admission, wasn’t enough,” said Shailaja Aralkar, an activist with Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP).
While many parents said that they were not aware of the legal entitlements, some were skeptical about taking up the issue with schools. Others, who have stood their ground, also have stories to tell. “The school that my child attends refused to provide the stationery material even after I showed them the legal provisions. My child has attended school without uniform or books for the entire academic year,” Sangita Chandbodhle, a parent, said.
Source: The Times of India