June 28, 2012

State can't violate Supreme Court directive on RTE

HYDERABAD: Protecting private schools from implementing the Right to Education act is a state government order, according to which seats in neighbourhood government and aided schools should be filled before private schools are approached for admission under RTE. The order has been a key reason for private schools to steer clear of earmarking 25 per cent seats under the RTE Act. But Supreme Court advocate Ashok Agarwal, who has been spearheading the RTE implementation, says that the GO is in violation of the Act.

In the city on Wednesday, Ashok Agarwal told TOI that he had been travelling to various districts across Andhra Pradesh to meet lawyers and create awareness about the act so that they can take up cases of violation. "Section 12 of the RTE Act makes it very clear that it is a child's right to get admission in a private school and such a government order (issued by the state government) is in contradiction of this provision. The state while framing the rules cannot violate the act, they don't have power. This amounts to repealing section 12," Agarwal said.

He said another problem in AP is in the rules framed by the government on RTE's implementation. "They have applied reservations in this 25 %. This is reservation within reservation which is not permissible," he said.

Agarwal, who has been actively involved with MV Foundation, has toured districts including Kurnool, Khammam and Nalgonda over the last few days speaking to lawyers. "We are telling our lawyer friends about RTE provisions and asking them to adopt one school and then find out violation of the act. People can go to taluka and even district court... they needn't move the high court. We are getting a good response," he said.

June 01, 2012

Rising cost of education stifles parents

Many private schools stipulate that students buy textbooks, stationery from them

Even while struggling to survive the petrol price hike, parents across the city are now faced with the prospect of shelling out more money as the educational institutions are about to open.

With many private school managements stipulating that the students must buy the textbooks and stationery from them only, there is additional financial burden on the parents, as school managements are charging more than the open market prices.

“A full books and stationery set, put out as a package for each student by the school management, costs no less that Rs.3,000 a year even for primary school students. And that for high school students goes up to Rs.5,000,” says Lavanya, whose daughter studies at the Delhi Public School.

Expensive stuff
Even as some schools have made it optional for parents to buy books from the school or from outside, several parents said that schools take advantage of those parents who buy it from the school to save on their time.

“While uniforms too need to be purchased only from the school, each pair costs nearly Rs.1,000. A pair of socks, if purchased from the school, is priced at an unreasonable Rs. 150. Come June and almost an entire month's pay cheque goes on expenses to be borne for a new academic year,” rued another parent.

That apart, several corporate schools are now forcing parents of high school children to even purchase customised tablet devices like the ‘edutor' which costs Rs. 750.

No choice
The device enables electronic storage of lessons to be taught in an academic year. Many parents, however, said that they find no merit in introducing such technology among students when they have to buy and carry books to school, nonetheless.

“Also, this year we were asked to pay an additional Rs.1,000 towards ‘extra curricular activities' so that children are allowed to play indoor games like carom, chess, etc.

Managements are openly looting parents who do not have another choice but to abide,” said a parent.

Parents in dark
Another major concern of parents pertains to the ‘parent committees' which ought to be set up in all schools, as per the AP Education Act. “While many schools have not even constituted the committee, those who have do not ever consult parents before taking any major decisions, including fee hikes, as mandated,” said AP Parents Associations Coordination Committee convenor S. Govindarajulu.