Right to Education may increase quota to 40 per cent in schools

September 24, 2009: The Indian Express

Schools that have been allotted land by the government at lower rates might now have to reserve almost 40 per cent of seats for students from poorer sections.

A Delhi High Court ruling in 2007 had set aside a 15 per cent quota — 10 per cent for children from the economically weaker section (EWS) and five per cent for those of staff. In case the five per cent staff quota wasn’t filled, those seats would also go to EWS children.

Newsline has learnt that an additional 25 per cent is being considered for reservation under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) for the 390 schools that are on government land allotted at concessional rates.

Section 12(B) of the RTE says the reservation should be a minimum of 25 per cent. Sources said Education department officials are now discussing the technicalities of the Act and how to implement both quotas. Sources said outlays have to be made in the budget too.

“The RTE is an Act now. Schools should know that. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. We will create awareness about the new Act and the government is working out modalities for its implementation,¶ sources said. “It will be implemented only after the government approves,¶ they said.

While the government will reimburse private and unaided schools the cost of reserving the 25 per cent seats, education is to be provided free of cost to poor children under the EWS quota. Sources also said that schools should consider the 25 per cent reservation irrespective of whether they have been allotted land at a cheaper rate. “Land allotment is a separate issue. Why do we have to club it together? The 25 per cent reservation for poor kids under RTE will be implemented in all schools,¶ they said.

But private, unaided schools that are already required by law to give 15 per cent reservation to EWS children have called the idea “outrageous and ridiculous.¶

Principals have said they are not aware of what the government is thinking. They want the EWS quota of 15 per cent to be absorbed in the RTE’s 25 per cent quota. They say the total reservation should be 25 per cent and not 40.

“All private schools should then shut shop,¶ Vandana Puri, principal of Salwan Public School, said. “The burden will fall on those who pay. And the government won’t let us hike school fees either.

It won’t suffice even if the government pays for the children in that 25 per cent quota. This has to be contested. This is illogical.¶

The Salwan Trust got land from the government at concessional rates in the 1950s.

The RTE has a Centre-state, fund-sharing scheme for implementation of the 25 per cent quota. In private schools, the government will reimburse the cost of reserving seats for poor children at government rates.

The schools will have to bear the additional cost, principals say.

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