Thursday, October 9, 2014

Private schools question provision of free books, uniforms to EWS students

Shikha Sharma writes in IE 09 Oct, 2014
Stating that providing free books and uniforms to EWS students sought to “burden private unaided schools with a liability to provide something not even provided for by the government in its own schools”, private schools have filed an affidavit in the High Court, questioning the provision of free books and uniforms to EWS students in their schools.
“The government itself, in its very own schools, is not providing any free uniforms to its students, and is only providing cash subsidy/financial assistance to them. Hence, the liability which is not even borne by and is not considered part of free education by the government itself cannot be fastened upon private unaided schools,” reads the affidavit filed by the action committee of unaided private schools.
Schools have also questioned the term ‘freeship and free education’, calling only “charges like tuition fee and development charges as part of free education” and not things like free books and uniforms.
The affidavit also states that the government had, in its own affidavits and circulars before the court, said that “provision of free books and uniforms is not a part of the responsibility to provide freeship or free education”. “It is the contention of private schools that provision of free books is not a part of free education, and in that sense the rules framed by government are contrary to RTE. Also, when the government is not providing free uniforms in its own schools, how can it expect private schools to do the same? The government should first put its own house in order,” Kamal Gupta, the lawyer representing the private schools, said.
The government, on its part, has clarified that while it has been providing free books and providing subsidy for uniforms in its own schools, it is additionally providing private schools, not built on DDA land, reimbursement of Rs 1,290 per child

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Give free uniforms to EWS students, HC directs govt f

Sept 19, 2014. The Delhi High Court came down heavily on the Directorate of Education (DoE) as well as private schools for their “insensitive approach” of providing a “subsidy” for books and uniforms to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) students studying in government and private schools.
Taking note of the affidavit filed by the government, the court of Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul said, “You are creating a class divide,” after the DoE argued they were providing Rs 500-700 as subsidy for uniforms. Private schools had informed the court that the average cost of a uniform was Rs 3,000-4,000.
“The government is insensitive. It thinks it is doing a favour to poor children by providing them Rs 500-700 for uniforms. This amount may be sufficient for summer uniforms. What about winter?” the court said.
The court also noted that the schools were being given Rs 1,290 per child for books and uniforms and asked whether schools which got land at concessional rates were supplying facilities to EWS students. “It’s your obligation under the Right to Education Act. How can you say you are not responsible,” the court said, after the counsel for the schools stated that as per their lease agreement with the government, they are only required to provide free tuition, not free uniforms and books.
Private unaided schools also told the court that schools which had received land at concessional rates were not being provided any subsidy by the government.
“Only 400 schools are on subsidised land, the rest are getting reimbursement. What facilities are you giving,” the court said.
The court suggested that the government should supply free uniforms to children in government and government-aided schools as well as EWS students in private unaided schools. “Open a Delhi Bureau to supply uniforms to EWS students,” the court said.
The court will now issue detailed directions on the issue to DoE and private schools on October 9.

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