Seven English medium schools run by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) have been asked to stop charging fee from students, which is in violation of the Right To Education Act. Following a news report in The Indian Express, the TMC has issued notices, to the schools to stop collecting fee from 2017-18. Activists, however, claim that not charging tution fee is only one aspect of their demands.
These schools have not been distributing free schoolbags, books and other 25 items to students mandated by the civic body, nor have they been serving midday meals, locals claim. “We have been writing to civic officials and the education department about this violation of the RTE Act. Our priority was students being charged fees. We welcome the decision of the civic body to stop the collection of fees, but what about other rules under the RTE Act yet to be implemented by these schools?” said Ghanshyam Sonar, convenor of Samaan Shikshan Mulbhut Adhikar Samiti.
Sonar added, “The state education department is to be blamed too. The department, which conducts RTE compliance reports, neglects civic schools.” Earlier this month, it was found that seven schools run by the TMC have been charging fees from students for over a decade. The Samaan Shikshan Mulbhut Adhikar Samiti had threatened to move court if the fee collection did not stop. The matter came to light when one advocate Shakeel Ahmed approached the Court Naka municipal school in Thane for the admission of his son. Ahmed found out that the school charged a fees of Rs 1850 per year.
While TMC officials called it “nominal”, activist said the civic body could not charge a single rupee from students. Even as TMC education officials claimed the fee was being charged according to an old resolution passed by the education board of the civic body, activists said it stood null and void after the RTE Act came into effect. TMC Education officer Urmila Pardhe said: “All english medium schools — pre-primary, primary under TMC — can no more charge fee from academic year 2017-18 as per the RTE Act 2009. We have sent this notice to the principal and heads of all TMC-run english medium schools as directed by the deputy municipal commissioner of Education.”