Faced with a severe fund crunch, Uttarakhand may stop admissions under RTE Act
The Uttarakhand government, which is currently dealing with severe fund crunch, may stop admissions under Right To Education (RTE) Act in private schools across the state for the 2018-19 academic session.
The state education department has blamed the central government for not allocating necessary funds for reimbursement of private schools. According to the Uttarakhand school education secretary, the Centre had not released funds for last two academic sessions.
“We have to re-look at the RTE implementation in the state. We need to make modifications (to the Act) to secure the future of students in the state,” she said.
A recent CAG report on the implementation of the RTE Act said that the state government is yet to reimburse nearly 4,000 unaided schools, an amount of almost Rs 100 crore in cumulative dues. These dues include tuition and annual fee for students admitted under the RTE Act.
The Act mandates all private schools, excluding unaided minority schools, to reserve 25% seats for students of economically weaker sections (EWS) category.
In accordance with the Act, the Centre is to contribute 65% of the cost of providing free primary education to states. The state government selects students and allots them private schools, where they are granted free admission. The state government then reimburses the schools at a fixed rate.
According to Uttarakhand school education department figures, for the academic session 2015-16, the Centre paid Rs 39.80 crore against the total expenditure of Rs 49.55 crore.
In the academic session of 2016-17, the state spent Rs 81.89 crore on providing education to children from underprivileged sections. The central government didn’t provide any funds that year. The department was yet to calculate the expenses incurred in academic session 2017-18. The cumulative dues are likely to exceed Rs 100 crore mark.
Private schools in the state too have threatened to strike off the admissions if the dues, along with accrued interest, are not cleared soon.
“The central government has not reimbursed funds for Uttarakhand but many other states. In some states, more reimbursements have been made and in others states, less. It is very unfortunate. Obviously private unaided schools will stop these admissions, why would they continue when the government will not reimburse them?” RTE forum national convener Ambarish Rai told Catch.
He added, “This is a very difficult situation for private schools. They are already offering education to EWS students at a highly subsidised rate and haven’t been reimbursed for almost two academic years.”
Prem Kashyap, the president of Progressive School Association, an umbrella organisation of almost 170 private schools in the state, says, “The schools have liabilities too. They have to pay salaries to teachers and staff, spend on infrastructure, and repay loans. If this continues, I am afraid we will be left with no choice other than to strike off the names of the students.”
Incidentally, the number of children getting admissions under RTE Act has seen a steady rise over the years. From nearly 83,000 such admissions in 2015-16, it has shot up to 1.7 lakh in 2017-18 and is likely to further rise in the next academic session.