Education free, but what about accessories?
BANGALORE: When Mohsina Begum, a mother of three, was told about the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE), her joy knew no bounds. Already burdened with the responsibility of educating two children, Mohsina was finding it difficult to get her third child admitted in a school.
“I was paying the tuition fee for two children and was left with no money to invest in my third child. Then I was told about RTE and free education to Economically Weaker Section (EWS),” says Mohsina, who appears to have hit a roadblock despite RTE being in place. “I was elated that my child can study now as education is free. I went to the New Citizen School in Kushalnagar and filled up the application form. Everything was going well, till yesterday, when the school demanded Rs 3,705 for the textbooks and the school uniform. I have hit a roadblock once again. The maximum that I can arrange for right now is Rs 1,000. If the school does not agree, I will have to pull my child out,” says Mohsina.
There are many like Mohsina, who are disappointed. According to Mohsina, eight families went ahead with the process of admission under the Act, but are now planning to give up, looking at the huge sum being asked for textbooks and uniforms. “Most of the schools are charging exorbitant amount for textbooks and school uniforms.
Some say, they are planning to get imported material to be stitched, while some claim that since they have placed the orders a year ago, they can’t reduce the charges. Whatever the reason, many poor families are all set to opt out,” says Yasir Mohammed, a social worker, who has been facilitating the admissions under RTE.
WHAT SCHOOLS SAY
In the absence of guidelines on the maximum amount that can be charged for textbooks and uniforms from poor children, schools have fixed different amounts. Some are charging for the computer sessions and smart classes as well.
“We are charging Rs 2,000, excluding textbooks and stationery. We are already running on very minimum charges and cannot dip beyond this point. The amount should be anywhere near Rs 3,000, including textbooks. We will not be able to help poor children here,” says Salma Khatoon, principal, Excellent School. Many schools say that although they are charging money for accessories, parents are fee to go out and buy on their own. “We are charging around Rs 2,000. But we are also giving parents the option of purchasing from outside,” says Ashraf Ulla Khan, principal, New Citizen School in Khushalnagar.
The Times of India, 09 June 2012