RTE puts private schools in a fix

Quality education comes at a price, they say

Implementation of RTE Act, which reserves 25% of seats for the underprivileged, has come as a hard blow to private unaided and international schools in the city.

The schools are worried as expenditure for each child will differ.

RTE Act mandates that schools set aside 25% of seats at the entry level for students from economically weak sections staying in its neighbourhood.

The government has promised to reimburse Rs 11,000 annually for every such child admitted. But schools claim the amount would not even cover tuition fees.

Private unaided and international schools charge substantially high fees than government or aided schools. As such, implementing RTE Act is a huge challenge.

Lina Ashar, chairperson of Kangaroo Kids Education Limited, said, "RTE is a great law. However, schools such as Billabong will need to work out its implementation. Our vision is to provide international quality education and quality comes at a price. We fear this (RTE) may affect quality of education in good schools."

"The amount government has promised will not cover even 25 per cent of our expense. We have to look at infrastructure cost, apart from increasing staff and maintenance costs. Besides, there is still no clarity on eligibility for the 25 per cent quota," she said.

Schools that follow international curriculum spend lakhs to provide world-class facilities to students.

"We can provide education for free but what about other expenses," said Ashar.

M P Sharma, director of G D Somani School in Cuffe Parade said, "It is good underprivileged students will get to study in same schools as elite students. But how will a student from an economically weak section adjust to a school in an affluent area such as Cuffe Parade or Colaba? The state government needs to clearly define students who will come under the quota."

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