As he walked to his daughter’s school on Thursday, the 39-year-old security guard thought the discussion would be about her academic performance. His daughter — who joined Amity International School, Mayur Vihar in Class I — has just passed Class VIII with 81% marks. She was promoted to Class IX two weeks ago.
“When I reached, though, the school guard asked me to submit my phone at the gate and meet the principal,” said the guard, who did not want to be named.
Once inside, he was told that the school could no longer fund his daughter’s education and he would either have to pay fee or withdraw her name for school.
“My daughter is a bright student. Her results reflect this and that is why I want her to get the best possible education. My son is not very good in studies and I am fine with keeping him in a government school near my house,” he added.
What law says
While the government may not have the power to take action against all schools, the rules are clear for schools that got land at nominal rates. These schools, as per several court orders as well as their lease agreements with DDA, have to admit EWS children till Class XII. The Delhi government can take strict action against them, including de-recognising them or taking over the institute.
The worried parent is among hundreds who, over the past five months, have been told that their children can no longer continue as students in the EWS category as the Right to Education Act allows them to study for free only upto Class VIII. According to the Act, 25% of all the children that the school admits at the entry level have to be from the Economically Weaker Sections, with a household income of less than Rs 1 lakh per annum.
The guard earns Rs 8,000 per month. To continue sending his daughter to school, he said, he and the other 15 parents whose children study under the EWS quota will have to pay Rs 50,000 as the fee for the first quarter and Rs 20,000 each for the remaining three quarters.
Several other parents from the school were called and told the same by the school Thursday.
Savita Mehta, spokesperson for the institution, said no final decision has been taken. “Yes, parents were called, but no final decision has been taken,” she said.
A week ago, parents whose children study at St Lawrence Convent School in Geeta Colony were also asked to make alternate arrangements. “Where can we go? Our children have got good education so far. How will they adjust to government schools?” said a woman whose son studies in the EWS quota at the school.
According to officials at the Directorate of Education, most schools asking children to pay fee are doing so illegally, as they have been built on government land and are obligated to take the children through till Class XII.
“While the RTE Act may talk just about children upto Class VIII, it is clear that schools built on institutional land have an obligation to teach these kids without discrimination till Class XII. We have got complaints and will take action soon,” said a senior official.