Mumbai: Private unaided schools to stage protest over issue of non-payment of reimbursement amount

Mumbai: Private unaided schools will remain shut on April 7 and stage a protest march ‘Chalo Delhi’ to Ramlila Maidan, Delhi over the issue of non-payment of reimbursement amount for Right to Education (RTE) admissions. Schools claimed that the state government has not provided Rs 1,200 crore since 2012 while the state claims that they have cleared Rs 302.48 crore and will disburse the pending amount soon.

Around 3,000 private unaided schools under the Federation of Schools Association of Maharashtra (FSAM) have been fighting over this issue since last month. Schools had decided to boycott ongoing admissions through RTE as the state has not provided them financial aid to fund the education of students since 2012.

Under the RTE Act, 2009, students of economically weak section of society can secure admissions in private unaided schools and gain free education from Class 1 to 8. Bharat Malik, a member of private schools said, “We have not denied education to any student though the government has not been providing funds since the last five years. But now we do not have funds to continue as it is the responsibility of the government to provide financial aid to facilitate free education to marginalised students.”

FSAM claimed that the pending amount is Rs 1,200 crore considering the entire education cost from Class 1 to 8 while the state education department claimed that they have cleared Rs 302.48 crore. A senior state education officer managing RTE admissions, said, “We cleared Rs 70 crore on January 15, Rs 10 crore on March 1 and Rs 138.28 crore on March 27, 2018. In total, we have cleared Rs 302.48 crores and will clear the pending amount soon so we request schools to cooperate.”

In addition, the state education department claimed that strict action will be taken against schools that deny admissions to students. While, SC Kedia, convener of FSAM, said, “We want to know where is this amount cleared? And when is the state going to clear the pending amount? Give us a fixed date so that we can fund the education of students accordingly.” Parents revealed that their children are the ones who are suffering in this tussle. Subhada Naik, a parent said, “Our annual income is below Rs 1 lakh and RTE is the only option through which our children can study in private schools.” Parents, teachers and students will be part of this protest, which will include schools from different states of India, according to FSAM.

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