MESTA says it will protest if govt does not stand true to its assurances of fee reimbursements
The momentous decision is out — schools may now deny remaining admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which have currently been stayed by the Bombay High Court. After the state government failed to maintain its promise to provide fee reimbursements to schools of students admitted under RTE, the Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA) has decided to restart its protest.
As the RTE reimbursement issue reached the HC in April, ongoing admissions under the Act had been stayed by court till June, when the next hearing is to be held to take a final decision. After a month-long protest by MESTA against delays in fee reimbursements, RTE admissions had just about begun, soon after the state education minister had assured that the distribution of the reimbursements in question would begin in 15 days. However, with June approaching and RTE admissions expected to restart, schools are in no mood to get back in line, because the government has failed to fulfil its promise.
MESTA founder-president Sanjayrao Tayade Patil told Mirror, “The state asked for 15 days on April 27. Then, it requested an extension of eight days. Now, it has been over 15 days since that extension was granted as well, and officials still have not initiated the necessary process. Now, if the government does not reimburse us before schools begin in June, we will restart our protest. A meeting has been scheduled of all MESTA district heads to decide on the nature of the protest. It may vary — from denying remaining admissions to closing all schools for a day or collecting donations to mock the government’s stand of having no money. It was our mistake to have believed the minister’s reimbursement promise.”
Rajendra Singh, president of the MESTA Pune Zone, said, “Although we had begun admissions under RTE after the government’s recent assurance, 75 per cent of the admissions are remaining. The state is putting the future of these students in limbo. MESTA has consciously taken this stand – we will not ask RTE students to leave schools, as after admitting them, we have taken their responsibility. But the state is irresponsible — schools may have to shut shop if this continues. Rs 84 crore already need to be reimbursed only for a year’s admissions; then multiply this by three years. If the government ignores this amount now, it might prove impossible to pay in future.”
MESTA began its protest in March against RTE admissions, after schools found it increasingly difficult to function sans the requisitioned fee reimbursements. Free admission to pre-primary sections was also questioned by schools. On April 27, at a meeting with the state education minister, it was decided to make pre-primary admissions voluntary and that reimbursements would be done before June. However, in the ongoing court case, the government resolution explaining this decision was challenged and schools did not receive the fees.
Singh added, “The government has not taken a clear stand with regard to the fee reimbursements. They keep making assurances and then keep quiet. This has added to the confusion. Once they take a clear stand, we will know what to do.”
Source: Pune Mirror