Over Complaints of discrepancies in the admission procedure prescribed by the schools for children from Economically Weaker Section (EWS), city’s six private schools have been asked to submit their response to a letter issued by the District Education Officer (DEO) of the Chandigarh Administration, by Monday morning.
The letter, which was addressed to principals of Aanchal International School, Shishu Niketan Public School, Delhi Public School, Bhawan Vidyalaya School, Shri Aurobindo School and Strawberry Fields School came as a response to a compliant filed by the Chandigarh Parents’ Association to the office of the DEO.
The complaint, written by Nitin Goyal, President of the Chandigarh Parents’ Association, states that in their application forms, the six schools had asked for more documents than mandated and they were harassing the parents. The letter said that beyond a residence proof and the family income affidavit signed by the Sub Divisional Office, parents did not need to present any additional documents prescribed by the schools.
These additional documents include an address proof, stating that the family has been residents of the city for the last three years, PAN and Aadhar card copy, and in some cases, bank account statements for the last three years. “My husband works in the unorganised sector and so do I. We have moved so much within the city, it is hard to produce these documents at such a short notice,” says a mother of an EWS aspirant, who wished to remain anonymous.
“There are no discrepancies on our behalf. We only ask for an address proof and an income certificate authorised by the SDO office, so I am not sure why we were sent that letter. We sent a clarification back to the office promptly on Friday,” says Atul Khanna, Director of Strawberry Fields School. Although the school does not ask for extra documents, its application form requires parents to provide proof of residence for the last three years.
According to the guidelines prescribed by the Right to Education Act (RTE), private schools have to reserve 25 per cent of their total seats for children from EWS background. The UT administration also has its own guidelines, asking schools to reserve at least 15 per cent seats for EWS children, out of which at least ten per cent is reimbursed by the UT government annually.
In the past, it has been reported that schools in Chandigarh have refused to admit EWS students citing delays in reimbursement by the administration. According to the RTE Act, for reimbursement, the cost of education per child is calculated by dividing the complete cost by the number of EWS students enrolled in the school.
“At the end of each year, schools send the cost of education per child and then we have to process their estimates and pay them back. However, to speed up the process, we decided in the last meeting that we will pay 75 per cent of the cost estimated from the last year and pay the rest of the money after calculating the actual costs given to us by the school at the end of the year,” says BL Sharma, the former Education Secretary of Chandigarh UT.
A source at the DEO office said that complaints regarding difficulties faced by EWS
students were an annual affair and were always checked by the office. “We promptly look into it and get it solved. The SDO certificate for income proof should be enough, because it is verified by the office and there is no scope for errors,” claims the source.
“I understand that complete verification is important, because you do not want to provide the rights of EWS students to the wrong party. However, extra documentation should not be asked indiscriminately across the board, but only from people who are suspects,” adds Sharma.