It is one thing to have an intent but it is altogether different to put it in practice. A good education is a foundation of modern society as it enables social enrichment, economic growth and prosperity. However, providing a ‘good’ education is easier said than done. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution says "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law" and Article 21A stipulates that the “State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State, may by law determine.”
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE 2009) had the right intent but it its delivery mechanism was handicapped by the inclination of the political class towards expediency.Children, belonging to the most neglected sections of society,are getting admitted to private schools which were, earlier, the exclusive privilege of the affluent. Unfortunately, some private schools adopt a very disdainful and contemptuous attitude towards these children, treating them as if they are doing them a favour by admitting them,sometimes even in front of fee-paying children. We all already know the negative impact this has on the sensitive minds of young children.
The problem lies in the process of reimbursing fees to private schools for providing education to the children from the disadvantaged groups and weaker sections under Section 12 (1) (c) of RTE Act-2009. At the moment, state governmentsare directly sending the tuition fee amounts directly into the bank accounts of the private schools.It has also been reported, that in many states there have been numerous cases of private schools misappropriating the reimbursement amounts that has been paid by the government and private schools in many states, have even taken huge amounts of reimbursement from the government after fraudulently convincing children to drop out from government schools and take admission in their own schools. Many such private schools have even threatened the government that they would cancel the admission of children if their fees were not reimbursed by the authorities
However, all is still not lost. 56 ministries and departments of the Government of India currently run 419 direct benefit schemes. Rupees 3,81,631 Crores (during 2019-20) were paid directly into the accounts of beneficiaries through 438 Crore direct benefit transfer transactions made by the various departments and ministries of in India; scholarship schemes accounted for direct benefit transfers totaling nearly Rupees 6,704 Crores made through 1.07 Crore transactions (source: https://dbtbharat.gov.in/reportnew/scheme-group-report).
The Government of Uttar Pradesh is making cash transfers directly into the accounts of beneficiaries (through Direct Benefit Transfer) for 126 schemes run by 26 state government departments, including reimbursement of fees for higher education and scholarship payment. Already, under the RTE Act-2009, a sum of five thousand rupees is being sent to the account of our children belonging to weaker groups studying in private schools and for the purchase of bags and school dresses, etc.Is it not logical to ask why reimbursement amounts of fees payable to private unaided schools (under Section 12 (1) (c) of the Right to Education Act-2009), as decided by the government, can be paid directly into the accounts of parents, so that they have the right to choose which school would be best for their child.
These certainly do not wish to run from pillar-to post-requesting and begging schools to admit their children as it not only our makes them lose their self-respect but also has a very negative effect on the minds of children. This would not only give them the dignity that they rightly deserve but will also be a major step towards achieving the socio-economic justice as mandated in the Constitution of India, thus empowering BPL/EWS families.
(Educationist and Environmentalist)