Refund all fees charged from students by govt and private schools: Harsh Dev

Jammu:  “Despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 having become applicable to the UT of J&K, the present regime continues with its unabated violation thereby depriving the prospective beneficiaries of the benefits envisaged under the said Act. Expressing dismay over the gross defiance shown by the govt in implementing the most revolutionary provisions of the Act, Mr. Harsh Dev Singh Chairman-JKNPP and former Education Minister said that it only demonstrated the derision and contempt of the present rulers for the beneficial laws and educational reforms in the new UT. Not only have the most revolutionary provisions of the RTE Act been violated with impunity by the Education Deptt but the private schools also seem to have been granted immunity from observing the mandatory provisions of the Act in view of a well knit nexus operational in the system”. He was addressing a press conference in Jammu today.

Elaborating the basic highlights of RTE Act before the media, Mr. Singh said that it envisaged Right of children to free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years, from class-I to class-VIII. It provides that no school fee, capitation, charges or expenses are to be paid by the child to get elementary education, a provision which was being brazenly defied by the govt schools in the UT of J&K, divulged Mr. Singh. Charging of admission fee and other charges was violative of the provisions of the Act, said Mr. Singh. “The Act further states that no child or his parent would be subject to any screening procedure for admission to school, no child shall be held back in any class till class-VIII and no child expelled from school. It further calls for provision of free text books, writing materials and uniforms”, revealed Mr. Singh. He expressed his shock over the collection of huge fee and other charges by the govt from students of class-I to class-VIII in the form of Admission School Improvement Fund, Red Cross Fund, Mutual Benefits Fund, Games Fund, Printing Fund, Science Fund, Computer Fund, Lab development Fund, Social activity Fund, Sweeping charges, Electricity/Telephone Fund and News Fund. And all this in brazen violation of the Provisions of the RTE Act. He sought the refund of all fee charged from students by govt as well as private schools for the last two years as per the mandate of RTE Act and also for the reason that there has been hardly any academic activity in the schools, said Mr. Singh. Alleging disregard for the RTE law which had been incorporated even as a Fundamental Right in Art 21-A of the Constitution of India, Mr. Singh called for civil as well as penal action against those defying the significant constitutional guarantees provided to the citizens of this UT.

Pointing further towards a very significant feature of the RTE Act, Mr. Singh said that it provided that the private schools would have to take atleast 25% of the class strength from Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) at the time of admission in class-I and provide free and compulsory education till class-VIII. He lamented that the said provision was not being implemented in J&K due to an unholy nexus between the top officers of Education Deptt and the private school management thereby depriving the poor and economically weaker students of their constitutional rights to have education in such schools. The deprivation of the poor children from getting quality education due to vested interests of the unscrupulous combine of officers and private school owners therefore needed due cognizance of the Govt as well as law enforcement authorities besides the vigilante organizations, asserted Mr. Singh. He said that NPP would take to agitational course against the criminal negligence of the govt towards the most significant sector affecting the careers of the budding nation builders.

Mr. Gagan Pratap Singh (State Secretary-JKNPP) and Mr. Surinder Chouhan (District President Jammu Rural) were also present in the press conference.