A 13-year-old girl studying at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School at Shahbad Dairy has a hard time coping with school work. With no money to buy supplies for school, even basic items such as notebooks and pens, focusing in class is proving a tough task for her. It doesn’t help that she got text books from school about a month after the new academic session started. She is facing these difficulties at a time when the government is keen on improving the learning levels of students in all government schools in the city.
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The mother of the girl, who does not want to be named for the fear of being discriminated against in school, has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court, asking the state and the central government to ensure that schools provide all materials necessary to ensure there is no barrier in getting quality education, as the Right to Education Act states.
“The petitioner and several other parents like her have no means to buy books, notebooks, pens and uniform. They get books so late that they fall behind in studies and it’s difficult to catch up. The government says it provides parents with direct money transfers for school uniforms and writing material but there are serious issues with this approach,” said lawyer and RTE activist Khagesh Jha.
According to Jha, the Delhi government used to give subsidy to students for uniform and writing materials before the RTE Act. The Act, however, says that the students must be given the materials and not a subsidy.
“Funds are not really an issue. Of the amount to be spent on children’s needs, 70 per cent is to be paid by the central government and the remaining by the Delhi government. Fund transfer is not the ideal model,” he said.
According to the petitioner, a fund transfer is prone to technical difficulties. She said the government, at present, transfers funds directly into the account of students through ECS (electric clearing service). Most families do not operate bank accounts regularly and these can get suspended and the funds won’t be deposited, she added. Even if the money is deposited, there is no guarantee it will be used for the child, she said.
Delhi government officials said money is directly transferred into students’ bank accounts and any problem is taken up with the schools or the departments. The court will hear the petition Monday.
Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.
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