• Thursday, December 07, 2023

EWS students in turmoil over paid education

EWS students in turmoil over paid education
on Apr 08, 2021
EWS students in turmoil over paid education
Gaurav and Vishal were promoted to Class IX for the 2021-22 academic session at St Thomas’ School in Dwarka. Their father, Jag Narayan, a mechanic, had been told even before the results were declared that the two boys would have to pay the full fees from now on or leave the school. The youngsters did not even know they had been studying for free under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota in private schools. The shock realisation for the family is that the benefit of free education under the Right to Education Act in non-government institutions extends only till Class VIII.Jag Narayan had no option but to sign an agreement with the school, promising to pay his sons’ tuition fees — Rs 16,740 per child per quarter. And while he may have braved the daunting task of mobilising funds to give his children a real chance at the future, the Qutub Vihar Goyla Dairy resident is surely going to struggle. Many others despairing parents in a similar situation have no alternative but to move their children to government institutions because schools built on private land are not legally bound to provide free education under RTE.
Narayan approached the school twice, pleading that at least Gaurav be allowed to continue studying free. Rebuffed, the father said, “Gaurav is good in studies and I hoped he would be accommodated. When I admitted my sons to the school, I wasn’t aware of these clauses regarding government land and private land.” The school’s response was: “We would like to state that as in the past, our school continues to comply with the RTE Act, Delhi School Education Act and all other applicable laws. We have no further comment to make.” Gaurav, 15, confided to TOI, “I want to become a doctor but the nearest government school where I can study for free does not have a science stream.” His brother added, “They should have told our parents about this at the time of admission and maybe we would have studied in a government school. What will we tell our friends now — that we are poor and so have to attend another school?” A court hearing a petition demanding extension of the RTE Act benefit till Class XII has already been asked by the central government to dismiss the plea. Parents of over 150 EWS students at Hansraj Model School and NC Jindal Public School, both in Punjabi Bagh, have petitioned the chief minister and deputy CM on the matter, but haven’t got a response yet. After being promoted to Class IX in Hansraj Model School, Satyam Jha got a letter March 20 asking him to confirm his economic status. “My father is a driver for a transport company and cannot afford to pay so much for my education,” said a morose Jha, a student there since nursery. He, of course, learnt in Class V that he was not like his school mates but an EWS student when he had to drop his wish to attend cricket coaching after his parents told him they couldn’t afford the monthly Rs 500 this entailed. “I don't feel good about the situation. If I move to a government school, my friends will certainly mock me,” said the angst-ridden 14-year-old. Soni Singh too was told she couldn’t continue in NC Jindal Public School, where she has studied for over a decade. Her aggrieved mother, Suganti, who ekes out a living stitching clothes and now has to pay for both Soni and Yuvraj, who is in Class IX, ranted, “Is this what the Beti Padhao slogan we hear is all about?” Poonam, whose son studies in one of the institutions, alleged that some EWS students were barred from online classes. “Some kids were also removed from the class WhatsApp group,” the housewife added. “This harassment has mentally affected our children. Even those who didn’t know they were EWS beneficiaries now know and they feel humiliated. Most parents never tell their children that they are in the EWS category since this could lead to their being discriminated against in class. But that is precisely what we are facing now after so many years in the school.” Source: TOI

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