Private schools refusing to provide free books and uniforms to children studying under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category will soon face the prospect of de-recognition.
The Education Department has issued strict directions to de-recognise schools which do not give free books and uniforms to children under the EWS category.
Stating that schools “cannot escape from the obligation laid down under the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009”, the order directs schools to either comply or face the prospect of de-recognition.
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“In case of non-compliance with the directions, the process of de-recognition of the school – on account of violation of relevant provisions under the RTE Act, 2009 (Rule 15) – shall be initiated. The issue will also be brought to the notice of the competent authority in the DDA for taking necessary action against the defaulting schools,” the circular sent by the department to all schools states.
There are 68,951 EWS students in Delhi. According to an affidavit submitted by the Directorate of Education in the Delhi High Court, 51,000 of them are currently studying in schools that do not provide books and uniforms for free.
The Supreme Court in 2011 had ruled that any barriers, including financial ones, which prevented children from getting quality education, should be removed. Section 8(1) of the Delhi RTE Act also states that entitlements — including books, uniforms and writing material — have to be provided by schools.
Noting that it was “wholly unacceptable” on the government’s part that nearly 51,000 children have to go without books and uniform, the High Court had said last year that “it was the government’s as well as the schools’ duty to ensure that free textbooks are provided”.
But with the entitlement amount per child — that is given by the government — being too low to meet all costs, schools said they are under no obligation to adhere to the rule.
“The government pays a little more than Rs 600 for each child’s books and uniform. The amount is hardly enough to compensate us. We can’t be expected to pay lakhs of rupees from our own pockets,” R C Jain, president, Delhi State Public Schools’ Management Association, had said.