Instead of the mandated Rs 6,000 per month, schools are charging around Rs 25,000 per month, alleges one parent.

 Are schools in Coimbatore overcharging poor students admitted under RTE Image for representation/ PTI
news Right to Education Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 16:00

For Praveen*, a daily wage labourer, the start of June was a harrowing time, as he struggled to put together enough money to pay the fees at his son’s matriculation school in Coimbatore. Earning around Rs 8,000 per month, he finds the Rs 25,000 being charged as the annual fee a massive burden to tackle.

Praveen admitted his son to the Sri Vivekananda School in Annoor under the provisions of the Right to Education law, so that the fees would be affordable for his family. Despite this, Praveen has not managed to escape the burden of exorbitant school fees.

“We are only supposed to pay Rs 6,000. But the school charged us about Rs 25,000, asking for money for books, school uniform and other things,” he says.

When Praveen complained that the school could not charge such high fees under the RTE, he says, he was told that parents would have to pay the full fee amount upfront. When the government refunded the fees, they would get his money back. “And if the government does not refund it, they will not get back the fees,” he says.

Praveen’s is not an isolated case, as around 70 parents of children studying in 16 Coimbatore schools have raised a complaint with the Tamilagam Dalit Peoples’ Association. The Association has, in turn, filed a petition to the District Collector alleging that these schools have all overcharged parents of students admitted under the RTE quota.

Selvakumar, General Secretary of the Tamilagam Dalit Peoples’ Association, says, “On the one hand, the schools claim that they are not taking tuition fees from parents who have admitted their children under RTE scheme. On the other, they threaten parents and take money from them saying that the government is delaying paying them the RTE money, so the parents have to pay it.”

He added the Collector has promised to forward the petition to the Inspector of Matriculation Schools and to take action against schools that are charging excess fees.

Under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, 25% of the seats in private unaided schools are reserved for “children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups”.

TNM tried contacting the Sri Vivekananda Matriculation School, but the school authorities were unavailable for comment.

However, N Vijayan, General Secretary of the Federation of Matriculation Schools' Associations denied all allegations. “I spoke to school correspondents from Coimbatore, and they told me that this is a completely wrong allegation. The authenticity of these parents, who are making these allegations, must be checked. The fees committee has fixed the fees for all the classes and the schools cannot charge anything extra. I do not find any truth in these allegations,” he said.

 

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