4,000 pvt English schools to strike on Feb 25

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Schools in State to remain shut on Monday in protest against the State Government’s attitude towards them, RTE dues

Pune: Over 4,000 private English schools in the State under Independent English Schools Association (IESA) will remain shut on February 25, in protest against the government’s attitude towards them.

Out of these, 140 schools are from Pune, and 82 from Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Demanding a timely and hassle-free reimbursement against admissions under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, IESA and other organisations of unaided private schools under the banner of Federation of School Associations has called for a State-wide school bandh on the given day. Interestingly, the RTE application procedure is scheduled to begin on the same day.

The association has demanded that the GR issued by the State government on November 1, 2018 should be made null and void, and all pending amounts of reimbursement be paid back to the schools without delay.

In the GR, the education officials have been instructed to make rounds of the schools, and carry out inspection before releasing the reimbursement amount. The committees and squads carrying out the inspection need to check the admissions and entries in Saral portal, as well as those carried forward from the last year, by personally visiting the schools. They need to take attendance of the RTE students in each class and draft a report.

They also need to scrutinise the school fees and look out for the PTA report and account books of the schools. If possible, the officials could conduct a meeting of the parents to inquire about the fees.

However, Rajendra Singh of IESA stated that the Education Department does not have enough manpower to conduct the inspections, which will also cause delay in the process of report and reimbursement. “We have appealed that the government should only check if the students admitted under RTE Act are physically present in the school or not, and if the fee regulation is in place,” Singh added.The association said that out of the reimbursement amount of Rs 900 crore, they have received Rs 300 crore till date.

Another important demand is that of the introduction of ‘School Protection Act’. Singh explained, “The chaos that some anti-social elements create on school premises in the name of protest has a deep impact on the students and teachers. While we know that they mean no harm to children, the kids do not know that, which scares them a lot. We have had cases of woman teachers resigning because of mob threats. 

Hence, for the past three years, we have been demanding an Act in place to protect the students and teachers in the schools.”

The association has condemned the policy where the school principal is held responsible for any kind of accident of the school buses according to the GR of November 18, 2013. It has been demanded that not the principal, but the bus provider or contractor be the one questioned here.

“We also have issues with the ‘offline’ procedures of Education Department that encourage corruption. The registrations for ‘darja wadh’ and new schools are made offline. We want these procedures to go online to ensure transparency,” Singh said.

While the cases of fee hikes and parents’ protests are on the rise, the association has demanded that the government shall enact rules guiding what actions schools must take on parents defaulting their wards’ fees.

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