The Right to Education Act is now in its 6th year of implementation. On paper the Act has done well as all the government-aided private schools are required to have 25% seats reserved for children from the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) families. The Act did away with the admission tests or interviews and the admission fee for EWS candidates was waived. This gave many families an opportunity to educate their children for the first time and many sent their children to schools which would not have accepted them otherwise.
However, their difficulties don’t end here. Simran is a resident of the Nizamuddin Basti. Her three-year-old son will be joining nursery this year. Her daughter is five and has been a student at the nearby Delhi Public School, Mathura Road. Even though the course fee is waived for the two children, there are many costs involved in sending them to school.
Simran’s husband works as a waiter and earns around Rs 8,000 per month. The family is worried about the extra costs involved in schooling. A single uniform costs Rs 1,400, the shoes cost Rs 500 for each child and the books needed will be worth Rs 3,500. Simran and her husband wonder if their children can manage with a single uniform.
Under the Act, the money deposited by the parents will be credited to a bank account under the child’s name. Umais works as a tailor in the same neighbourhood. His daughter is six-years-old now and has been going to school for four years. However, he says there has been no sign of the refund. “I earn only around Rs 7, 000 a month. If I spend so much on her (daughter’s) books and uniform, how am I supposed to run a home? How do I provide for my family?”
Salim, who works as a tea-seller, shares similar story. His three-year-old daughter started schooling this week from DPS Mathura Road. “How much does a chaiwallah earn? I make around Rs 3000-4000 a month. I went and paid for my daughter’s books and I was so happy that she went to a school. But when I checked the inventory list closely, they even charged me for the carry bag! Forty rupees for a carry bag! If I had known, I would have just carried the books back in my hands!”
The parents try to cut costs in small ways. They try buying the books and uniforms directly from the source, but the books are not easy to find. They sometimes hesitate to buy even used books because of the revisions that take place in the academic syllabus each year. For nursery and kindergarten, the uniforms are different each year, and then again when they start elementary school.
Under the provisions of the Act, the parents can avail a refund on presentation of a printed receipt. Sanjay, who works as an assistant in a medical store in Nizamuddin, speaks of the difficulty in getting one. “I have two daughters. Whenever I ask for a printed receipt, the counter people always brush me off. They say they don’t have a bill book and that I should come back later. They just give us back our slip with a date. I have been asking them for six years now.” One year, after a lot of persistence, he managed to get a refund of 10%.
Zainab is sometimes late to pick up her daughter, “In DPS they scold you if you reach late. But in Modern School they wait with the child and behave better. People from the Basti who send their children there get their refunds on time and the school helps them find cheaper uniforms and books.”
Queries to Delhi Public School went unanswered.
Earlier, in January, deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia, who additionally holds education portfolio, assured parents that they won’t face any hurdles during the admission process. However, the parents continue to face difficulties post admission.
(This story can be found on http://theconverge.in/hit-on-paper-right-to-education-act-falls-flat-on-ground/)