Association seeks vouchers for RTE studentsof RTE instead of reimbursement; associations demand govt

The Times of India
News Dated: 

PUNE: The Independent English Schools Association (IESA) isn't yielding from its decision not to reopen their schools on June 15 despite the state government increasing the reimbursement amount per student admitted under the Right to Education Act to Rs17,329.

Signalling a statewide boycott of the government's decision, IESA officials demanded that the method used to calculate the reimbursement amount under RTE should be made public. The association claimed that the government spends about Rs96,000 on each child. Instead of giving the money to schools, it wants students to be handed the vouchers so as to encash them at schools where they have been admitted.

"In a public meeting in Sangli, education minister Vinod Tawde had declared that the state spends Rs96,000, per child, per month. All we want is that the government implement a voucher system so that students can present the vouchers instead of the fee. This will ensure that the dignity of the child is maintained. Moreover, if money is transferred to their accounts, there is a risk that the parents may utilize the money for some other purpose. Hence the voucher system is the best optioncan work best," said Rajendra Singh, president of the Federation of Private Unaided Schools Association of Maharashtra.

The federation, of Private Unaided Schools Association of Maharashtra which has about 3200 schools from the state as its members, has said that it will not reopen its schools on June 15 as scheduled.

As per RTE, the reimbursement amount is calculated as the amount spent by the government on a student studying in a government school or the amount the child has to pay in a private school where he has secured admission, whichever is less.

Representatives of English-medium schools associated with IESA from the Marathwada region believe that there should be different parameters for rural and urban schools. There are about 1,500 schools in the region under IESA.

"Marathwada is a rural area. Hence the land price will be different from urban areas like Pune which are more expensive. But we may have to provide an extra amount for facilities like digitization, e-learning or a karate class as it is not very common in the area," explained Rajendra Dayma, vice president of IESA.

Further, Dayma suggested the government keep Rs40,000 as the upper limit of reimbursement for rural areas. "If the school spends Rs15,000 per child then the government needs to pay only the matching amount. However, if the amount is higher than Rs40000, then the government must pay the same. We think this demand is reasonable and we will not reopen our schools on June 15 as scheduled as a mark of protest," added Dayma.

National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) secretary Amit Chandra added that the demand for vouchers or an alternative payment mode has been made by schools across India. NISA is affiliated with 23 associations across 19 states and has 36,000 schools under it.

"As far as I know, the government only calculates concurrent expenditure and not capital expenditure when it works out per child expense. This means, the teacher's salary is considered, but the capital investment on midday meal, uniform, books, electricity bill, water bill, property tax, and so on, is not considered but it is a huge amount. Hence it is a pan-India demand that the authorities provide us government comes out clean and give us the method and numbers used to calculate the per child expenditure in government-run schools," said Chandra. He further added that the reimbursement needs to be revised each year as per revised calculations.