The Maharashtra government recently released Rs 138 crore to pay private schools the pending reimbursement amount due for admissions they had granted under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. However, the state education department and private schools seemed to have different views on whether this amount was enough to cover the pending dues.
Earlier, a consortium of private school owners, under the aegis of the Independent English School Association, had moved the High Court over the amount owed by the state government. The state government had also declared that no fresh admissions would be given under RTE quota until the previous dues were cleared.
On March 27, the state government sanctioned Rs 138 crore towards the reimbursements and asked its officers to ensure that the amount is distributed within eight days.
A Government Resolution (GR) stated that the amount shall be released to the director of education (primary), Pune, who will prepare a list of districts in descending order of the pending amount, and then distribute the aid ‘in proportion’ to the demand. The directorate has also been instructed to submit ‘utilisation certificate’ for the Rs 138.28 crore within eight days of the release of funds.
Sharad Gosavi, deputy director of education, primary, said the funds were distributed within a day in various districts. “Nagpur district has received the highest amount, around Rs 27 crore, and Pune has been given Rs 23 crore. The education department has been instructed to ensure that the money is distributed within eight days,” he said.
While the GR does not mention whether the amount would clear the pending dues, officials at the state education department claimed the sanctioned funds covered the amount owed to private schools for admissions given until academic year 2016-2017.
Gosavi said the state owed the schools ‘only a minor amount’ in pending dues, which was less than a crore. “The state owed a total of around Rs 302 crore, of which Rs 164 crore was given earlier… for the current academic year 2017-2018, the bills have not been finalised yet,” he said.
Gosavi claimed that the sanctioned amount was not only for fresh admissions, but it was the cumulative amount pending since 2013.
Private schools, however, have maintained that pending dues were being calculated by the state in an erroneous manner and the actual dues were much higher. Managements of private schools said they were confident that the dues would not be cleared even after the current installment was paid.
“Till date, no school has received more than 10 per cent of its dues. Let them give us the reimbursement. If, according to them, it clears all our dues, we have no complaints. But if my school is owed a particular amount according to the government approved rate and I get less than that… then we have a case…,” said Rajendra Singh, secretary of the Independent English School Association, which had approached the high court.