Chandigarh: January 20 : Today a large number of students of Chandigarh schools, colleges, and Panjab University, including parents and some of the teachers gathered at Students Centre of Panjab University to protest against the reluctance of managements of private schools in Chandigarh to the implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009. As per the RTE Act 25% of the students from the poor families are to be admitted in the private schools whose expenses of education would be borne by the government. It is worth remembering that it took seven years to pass the Act in 2009 and was supposed to be implemented from the last academic session. However the managements of private schools, on one or the other pretext, are not willing to implement the Act even from the forthcoming session in 2011. There are 72 private schools in Chandigarh and if the students from the neighbourhood are not admitted this year, it will amount to the violation of the basic premises of the Act. “School education can’t be reduced to profit making business. It is sad that some of the private schools, instead of making education as their mission and social service, have reduced it to profit making ventures at the cost of helpless parents,” lamented Prof. Manjit Singh, former PUTA president.
“Why managements of private schools are reluctant to give details of balance sheets of the last five years to the Chandigarh Administration in order to calculate reimbursement of expenses by the government?” questioned social activist Hemant Goswami. “Private schools administrators are doing business in the garb of running schools in non-profit mode, this must be stopped. Government should not allow greedy businessmen to circumvent law and run education as a business while availing all the benefits and tax concession applicable to philanthropic organisations. Once these schools have registered themselves under the Income Tax Act as charitable entity and taken land and other benefits and concession from the Government, these schools have no business blocking the proper implementation of RTE,” Hemant emphasised.
Sh Kamaljit Singh, President Inqulabi Naujwan Sabha, Punjab addressing the gathering reminded that nearly half of the children of poor people are still deprived of the quality education and they are eventually forced to end up working as child labour. RTE Act is a revolutionary provision and it is the duty of every parent and conscious citizen to see the Act is implemented in letter and spirit, added Sh Kamaljit Singh.
The fact is that all private schools are functioning on the land offered by U.T., Chandigarh on long lease with the undertaking from the managements that they would give free education to 15 per cent children hailing from the economically and socially weaker sections of society. However, the private schools, by and large, do not honour their undertaking, he added. “The excuse that children hailing from a humble background won’t be able to adjust within the so called elitist environment of private schools is a mere handle to deprive the poor of quality education”, said Dr P.L. Garg, former Registrar, Baba Farid University and a social activist. “In India we have plethora of Acts for the poor but none is implemented” said Loveneet Thakur, a student of Laws Department of PU and a student activist. If people did not rally to implement RTE it may face the same fate as previous Acts, he warned. A large number of student activists of ‘CRITIQUE’ also joined the protest.