In a first-of-its-kind case in Gujarat in the implementation of Right to Education (RTE) Act, District Education Officer (DEO) of Ahmedabad city has passed an order asking a private school in Vatva area of Ahmedabad city to exempt an HIV-infected boy from the same area from paying fees under the provisions of the RTE Act. The DEO’s action came following a representation by an Ahmedabad-based voluntary organisation, Dalit Hak Rakshak Manch (DHRM), which sought the same.
Under the provisions of the RTE Act, a child belonging to any of the 11 categories earmarked in the RTE Act is eligible to get free education in any private school of his/her guardian’s choice. The private schools have to keep 25 per cent of its seats reserved for the students of these categories under the provisions of the RTE Act.
These 11 categories include children from families of Below Poverty Line (BPL), Socially & Economically Backward Class (SEBC), Scheduled Castes (SC) & Scheduled Tribes (ST), mentally challenged children, children with HIV infection, and physically challenged children.
Firoz Pathan (name changed) is a student of Class X in a primary school of Vatva area. After discovering his case, secretary of DHRM, Rajesh Solanki, had written to the Ahmedabad DEO, seeking fee exemption for Pathan’s education under the provisions of the RTE Act while stating that he falls within the 11 categories under which a student was entitled to free education in a private school. Acting on the DHRM’s representation, Ahmedabad DEO last month ordered the concerned school in Vatva to exempt Pathan from paying fees. A copy of Ahmedabad DEO’s order is with The Indian Express.
Pathan contracted HIV infection by birth from his mother. His maternal grandfather, Aiyub (name changed), has been taking care of the boy ever since he was three years old. According to Aiyub, Firoz’s mother got infected with the HIV virus through blood transfusion during her pregnancy. And the infection was then passed on to Firoz. Aiyub said that after the death of his mother, Firoz’s father remarried. And since then Aiyub has been taking care of Firoz.
Aiyub, a small-time tailor, said, “I used to spend around Rs 5,500 per year on the education of Firoz. And it used to be a significant financial responsibility for me. But with the fee exemption, I am feeling relatively relieved. The school authorities have told me not to pay the fees from now onwards. In fact, they have also told me to take back Rs 2,000 that I have already paid.”
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