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Parents of EWS XI Students Shocked as Delhi’s Modern School demands Rs 67,000 Fees

Schools built on government land allotted at concessional rates must provide free education to EWS students till class XII.

Parents of students who were admitted to Modern School, New Delhi, against the economically weaker section (EWS) quota and are now in class XI have alleged that the institution has violated the Right to Education Act by asking them to pay Rs 67,000 in fees for the first term of this academic year. The parents, who maintain that their children have been studying for free since nursery, have sent a legal notice to the school.

The institution is one of the 400 schools in the city that were allotted government land at concessional rates on the condition that they would provide free education to EWS students till secondary/senior secondary level.

As per Delhi Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011, schools registered with the Directorate of Education who received government land are required to provide free education to EWS students till class XII.

Subsection (3) of Rule 11 under ‘Responsibilities of Schools and Teachers’ states: “The schools mentioned in the second proviso of subsection (2) of Section 12 shall continue to fulfil their obligation for providing free education beyond elementary education and till completion of secondary/senior secondary education, as the case may be, and shall not be entitled to reimbursement to the extent of their obligation.”

One of the parents told Newsclick requesting anonymity that the news shocked the family as they have “hardly any means” to arrange such a huge amount of fees. “My husband worked with a private contractor who denied work during the lockdown and subsequent months. We barely survived on his provident fund money. The school started asking for fees after my child passed class VIII despite rules clearly stating no money should be demanded from EWS families,” she said.

Another parent who received a message from the school on June 15 to pay fees of Rs 67,835 for April-June said, “I work for a private company and we simply cannot think of this much money. When we approached the finance department, we were told to collect the school leaving certificate after paying the fees.”

Worried about his son’s future, he said, “Class XI and Class XII are very crucial for higher education. Even after the legal notice, the school management did not get back to the parents.”

Ashok Agarwal, a right to education activist, told Newsclick that Modern School’s conduct is “illegal, arbitrary, unjust, unethical, discriminatory, unconstitutional and tantamount to contempt of the Delhi High Court, which in similar circumstances had directed schools built on government land to provide free education to EWS/disadvantaged group (DG) students up to class XII”.

Alleging that the “thrust of big private schools remains to exclude students from a poor background, Agarwal said, “We have seen time and again that parents who are not well-versed with rules are asked to pay huge sums of money. In this particular case, the school has been asking parents to deposit fees and the management has refused to meet them. Parents are worried about the future of their children. If the school does not allow further education, we will approach the relevant court for action.”

In the Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan vs Union of India, the Supreme Court ruled that no child should be deprived of education and private education institutions share equal responsibility for the same. “Article 21A casts an obligation on the State to provide free and compulsory education to children of the age of 6 to 14 years and not on unaided non-minority and minority educational institutions. The rights of children to free and compulsory education guaranteed under Article 21A and the RTE Act can be enforced against the schools defined under Section 2(n) of the Act except unaided minority and non-minority schools not receiving any kind of aid or grants to meet their expenses from the appropriate governments or local authorities,” the court had ruled.

A Delhi government official told Newsclick over the phone that the Directorate of Education will issue notice to the school regarding the “violation” of RTE rules. “The rules are very clear that money should not be demanded from any parent whose children are admitted under EWS/DG category till class XII. Sometimes, schools think that they have discharged their liability by educating students till Class VII but they need to be reminded about the laws. We will ensure that the grievances of the parents are heard and the issue gets resolved,” the official said.

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