Alleging violation of Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, an educational rights group has threatened to move court against the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) after seven English-medium schools under the civic body were allegedly found charging fees. While education officials of TMC have claimed that the fees are being charged according to an old resolution passed by the education board of the civic body, activists say the resolution became null and void as soon as the RTE Act came into effect.
“Civic schools cannot collect fees from its students. However, if TMC officials are charging fees according to any resolution, it has to be revoked in order to implement RTE Act. If TMC schools are charging fees even seven years after the RTE Act was implemented, then it is a blatant violation of the Act,” said Ghanshyam Sonar, convenor of Samaan Shikshan Mulbhut Adhikar Samiti (Committee for Equal and Fundamental Right to Education). The matter came to light when lawyer Shakeel Ahmed approached the Court Naka municipal school in Thane for the admission of his son.
Ahmed found out that the school charges a fee of Rs 1,850 per year from students. While TMC officials call it a nominal fee, activists say that the civic body cannot charge a single rupee from the students. “Ahmed approached us, following which our volunteers went to the school to verify the matter. Once verified, we met the deputy municipal commissioner (Education), TMC, who assured us of looking into the matter,” Sonar said. Around Rs 14,46,700 are collected annually by charging the fees from 782 students studying in these seven English-medium schools.
Manish Joshi, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Education), TMC, told The Indian Express that the matter was being sensationalised and his department was not into any kind of profiteering by charging fees from “just” 728 students.
“The department runs 140 other schools apart from these seven. Of these 140 schools, 127 are primary schools having 30,000 students. We are not collecting a single rupee from these 30,000. Previously, there was an educational board which started these seven English-medium schools in 2007-08,” Joshi said. He added, “We knew these schools have been collecting fees. However, following the complaint from the educational rights group, we will examine the matter. We will take a decision according to the provisions of the RTE Act within a week.”