Holes in the safety net -Mallica Joshi
-The Indian Express
Far from the excitement of entering a new grade, thousands of EWS children are facing an uncertain future as they reach Class IX. With parents being asked to pay fee they cannot afford, The Indian Express looks at what caused the crisis
New Delhi: As a five-year-old in 2011, when her parents walked her to school, she craned her neck to try and take in the expanse of the building she thought would be her second home for the next 12 years.
A week ago, however, that dream started to collapse when her parents were called to the school.
“The principal sat us down and told us that they would no longer support our child till Class XII unless we started paying the fee. She said the Right to Education (RTE) Act only applies to EWS (Economically Weaker Section) children till Class VIII, and the exemption from paying fee and other expenses would end this year. We never expected this. Their annual fee is higher than what we earn, and our salaries haven’t increased much in the last eight years,” the girl’s father, who works as an agent in a local tour and travel company, said, recounting his conversation with the principal of Amity International School, Mayur Vihar, last week.
At the core of the issue is the RTE Act 2009 which, among other things, guarantees admission to EWS children in private schools for up to 25% of all admissions that take place in schools at the entry level — nursery, kindergarten and Class I. These children do not have to pay tuition fee and are to be reimbursed for course material as well as uniforms. This clause, however, is applicable only up to Class VIII.
For hundreds of children — who got admission in Class I at private schools in Delhi, under the EWS quota in 2011 — the move from Class VIII to Class IX has left them staring at an uncertain future. Several schools have had conversations with parents, while some have sent letters, telling them that if they want their children to continue in school, they will have to foot the bill.
In Delhi, one is eligible for the EWS quota if the parents’ income is less than Rs 1 lakh per annum, or Rs 8,333 per month. In many top schools in the city, the fee ranges from Rs 10,000-Rs 30,000 per month, depending on the facilities offered.
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The Indian Express, 8 April, 2019, https://indianexpress.com/article/education/hardlook-holes-in-the-safety-net-ews-quota-higher-education-rte-delhi-government-5664023/