Hours after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right to Education Act,2009 which mandates 25 per cent free seats to the poor in government and private unaided schools,many private schools welcomed the verdict but raised administrative and financial concerns. Still others said the onus of implementing the RTE Act should be not just on private schools but also the government.
L V Sehgal,principal of Bal Bharati Public School and chairperson of the National Progressive Schools Alliance,said such inclusion in education should be promoted.
Our concerns are regarding reimbursements. No private school has received any payment towards reimbursement in the last two years, Sehgal said. Rs 228 per child,he said,was given to schools two years ago for stationery,including text books,for an entire year.
According to Sehgal,if the RTE has to be implemented in letter and spirit,the government will have to employ thousands of teachers in Delhi alone since more schools will have to be opened to meet catchment area requirements of every child. By doing this,the number of seats will increase and pressure on private institutions will decrease, he said.
But others like R C Jain,chairperson of the Delhi State Public Schools Management Association,said: We are going to file a review petition as many NGOs running schools in the country are disappointed by the judgement. This was unexpected.
Schools also questioned the onus on private institutions to meet the norms of RTE. The onus lies with the government,they have to lead by example, said Ameeta Mulla Wattal,principal of Springdales School,Pusa Road. Welcoming the ruling,she said: It is part of our social responsibility to give equal opportunity to every child and this judgement allows that.
This was reiterated by Abha Sehgal,principal of Sanskriti School,who said that the school never contested the RTE which,in fact,is the need of the hour.
Modern School,Barakhamba Road principal Lata Vaidyanathan raised concerns regarding the mismatch between the kinds of schools and the payments offered. It would be naive to deny that there have been challenges in integrating these children in classes.
She said there were many issues regarding payments since there are clusters of schools in certain pockets of Delhi while there are no schools for many kilometres in certain other areas. The concept of neighbourhood fails if cost of transportation for parents increases, Vaidyanathan said.
Unaided minority institutions,which have been exempted from reserving 25 per cent seats for the economically weaker section,said the Supreme Court verdict was a positive outcome. Last December,a group of representatives of minority schools in Delhi had protested government interference in their autonomy.