After contractors, Karnataka school owners allege massive govt corruption, write to PM
The Karnataka unit of the Registered Unaided Private Schools Management Association (RUPSA) has alleged corruption in the education department. After road contractors, it was RUPSA's turn, and the organisation wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for intervention and demanding action against BC Nagesh, Primary and Higher Education Minister of Karnataka.
Speaking to TNM, Lokesh Talikatte, President of Karnataka RUPSA said that officials at the education department demand bribes of up to 30 to 40% for various approvals. “Twenty percent of the Right to Education (RTE) reimbursement fee is taken by the Deputy Director of Public Instruction,” he alleged. According to Section 12 (2) of the RTE Act, the government is obligated to reimburse all private unaided schools for allocating 25% of their entry-level seats to students from economically disadvantaged groups (EWS/DG). As per the Act, schools that provide free education to the students are eligible to be reimbursed the expenditure incurred per child, or the actual amount charged from the child, whichever is lesser.
“Twenty percent of the fee we have to get from the government is taken by the Block Education Office (BEO),” he further stated. Alleging that the corruption has increased owing to the majority of tasks being online,”They have set a price for each authorisation or approval,” he said. In a phone call recording shared by RUPSA, a BEO official is heard asking for a bribe from a school official. The conversation starts with the voice that purportedly belongs to the school official asking about the updates on renewals. To this, the alleged BEO official says, “You were supposed to meet me.” The school official says that he will send '15' in the hands of the school headmaster. Though they don't mention the denomination properly, the conversation further goes on with the BEO official demanding '25'. After a few negotiations, the BEO official agrees to being paid '20'.
Lokesh told TNM that officials in the department take bribes primarily for two reasons, for releasing the RTE amount and for renewal of recognition. "It has become infeasible to run schools as the bribes are more than what we earn. The officials say they pay the ministry in lakhs to secure a transfer and they make that money back by asking bribes from us," he said.
In the letter to PM Narendra Modi, RUPSA demanded action against BC Nagesh as the situation is detrimental to the expansion of the state's educational system. "Sir, we are very sorry to bring to your kind notice that a few leaders, under your leadership, have failed to understand the spirit of your functioning. They behave like an uncrowned king. The Education Minister for Primary and Higher Secondary Education of Karnataka is one such," read the letter.
The letter further stated, "You are aware of the effects of COVID-19 on education. Students have suffered due to a lack of education continuously for two years. To add to this, child marriage, child labour etc. creeped in again. Instead of giving attention to such challenging issues, our Education Minister is involved in the controversial issue of textbook revision".
Adding that the government is unable to supply textbooks to schools, "It was uncalled for. The result is even after two months of schools reopening, the government is not in a position to supply textbooks," it added. Calling BC Nagesh a “National Education Policy (NEP) scarecrow”, the letter stated, "The state government has not allocated any funds for NEP implementation. The responsible Education Minister has simply indulged in loose talks for two years and has become a laughing stock in the society." Lastly, the letter stated that RUPSA was ready to provide proof and evidence in respect of the above allegations.