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Can’t afford free education, AP tells centre

Implementation, Reservation of seats, Right to Education, School Fee

HYDERABAD: The state government has put the onus on the Centre for the implementation of 25 per cent quota for economically disadvantaged students in private schools under the Right to Education Act (RTE) from this academic year 2012-13, saying that it has no funds to reimburse fees for students.

The government, which has already diluted the RTE quota by exempting elite schools which offer the CBSE, ICSE, IB curriculum and collect huge fees for admissions by citing a “funding crunch”, is now running away from implementing the quota even in schools affiliated to the state board.

The government estimates that nearly Rs90 crore is needed to admit 25 per cent RTE quota students in Class I in private schools this year, which will increase by Rs100 crore every year in the next eight years, as the RTE promises free education till Class VIII.

Crucially, the state government spends Rs3,500 crore every year on the fee reimbursement scheme to enable students from socially and economically weaker sections to pursue higher education and professional courses. Against this backdrop, RTE activists attacked the government’s claim that it cannot bear Rs90 crore to implement the RTE quota.
The government is concerned that the financial burden will increase to `800 crore per annum in the next eight years. The department of school education has prepared a detailed report on the “financial burden” the state government will face in the implementation of the RTE quota in private schools.

A senior official said: “Though the financial burden appears to be less in the first year of RTE quota implementation, it will increase significantly over the next eight years. The government has to spend nearly Rs90 crore this year to admit 25 per cent quota students in Class I in private schools this year. Unless the Centre extends financial help, it is not possible for the state to implement RTE quota.”

The department has referred the issue to the state government to take a final decision on the RTE quota. The issue was scheduled to be discussed during a review meeting convened by Chief Mini-ster N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on Friday. However, the meeting was called off, as Mr Reddy had rushed to New Delhi following “poli-tical developments” at the Centre and in the state.

Deccan Chronicle, 23 June 2012


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