The criteria of income for the economically weaker section (EWS) quota for admission to private schools has not been revised for over a decade. It is due for revision for the 2020-2021 academic session either.

As per the criteria for availing the EWS quota, the family income of the child should be up to ₹1.5 lakh per annum.

Director of school education, Chandigarh, Rubinderjit Singh Brar said, “Considering the increased cost of living and other factors we had written to the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) recommending the increase of income criteria to ₹2.5 lakh per annum. “

According to the Right to Education Act(2009), private schools in the city have to reserve 25% seats for EWS and disadvantaged group categories.

Despite the inflation, consumer index and salary hike, the criteria has not been revised since the RTE Act was notified in Chandigarh.

The UT education department had written to the Centre to apprise them of the matter in 2018 and this year. However, no action has been taken so far.

However, sources say that UT administration has not received any reply from the Centre as yet.

A 32-year-old Ola auto-rickshaw driver based in Chandigarh, pleading anonymity said, “I earn ₹20,000 a month. With that, it is difficult to feed a family of four. I cannot afford quality education for my children. With ₹ 2.4 lakh as my annual income, I do not come under the economically weaker section category.”

Principal of Tender Heart School, Vikrant Suri, had told HT that principals across city schools want genuine beneficiaries of the scheme to avail the quota under EWS category.

A school principal, requesting anonymity, said, “It has been observed that people who do not belong to affluent backgrounds often struggle to pay tuition fee after getting their children enrolled in private schools. I feel it would be better if these people are covered under the EWS quota.”

Director of Strawberry Fields High School, Atul Khanna, said that people’s incomes have gone up and the UT education department should relook it.

President of the Chandigarh Parents’ Association (CPA), Nitin Goyal said, “For other public welfare schemes in Chandigarh, the eligibility criteria for issuing EWS certificates by subdivisional magistrates is an annual family income up to ₹8 lakh. But when it comes to RTE, the government is sticking to the decade-old limit of ₹1.5 lakh which is absolute injustice.”

“Haryana raised it to ₹2 lakh almost seven years ago. The Chandigarh administration sent a proposal for raising it to ₹2.5 lakh to MHRD earlier this year, but nothing has been done so far. Private schools are exploiting this situation because of the shortage of eligible beneficiaries,” he added.

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