- Order says kids from SC/STs or BPL families can go to private schools
- RTE allows kids from families with annual income less than Rs.2.5 lakh
- Activists say government is cutting down on education bill
JAIPUR: Education is the right of every child, but a new order of the Rajasthan government may shut the doors of private schools and a brighter future to nearly 3 lakh children in the state.
Under the Right to Education Act, any child from the weaker section of society — whose parents' annual income is less than Rs. 2.5 lakh a year – can apply for admission to a private school. The government bears the costs. But in an order dated March 28, the government said only those who have a Below Poverty Line card, or belong to the Scheduled castes and tribes, can avail of this opportunity.
Activists have moved the High Court, the case will be heard on April 20. They say if the court does not intervene, nearly 40% children, whose parents could not afford the fees of a private school, will lose their chance for a better future.
"The government wants to cut down the number of people it has to support under the Right to Education Act," said Pranjal Singh from Abhyuttanam Society, who has filed the petition.
The Right To Education Act enables poor children to study in private schools and get an education their parents would not have been able to afford.
The government contends the decision has been taken to benefit the "real poor". "The number of applications under the RTE was becoming huge and the BPL people were being left out," said Rajendra Singh Rathore, health minister and spokesman of the Vasundhara Raje government.
Government figures show that of the 1.65 lakh children who benefitted under RTE last year, only 20,000 were from BPL families.
But there are only 24 lakh BPL card holders in Rajasthan and the new order will leave out a huge section of people — the urban poor.
It will leave out children like 4-year-old Zara, who has been studying at a private school in Jaipur for the past one year. Her father Usman scrapes together a living by displaying magic and tricks on roads. He does not have a BPL card.
Usman was hoping he would be able to educate Zara's siblings too under the RTE. "We want to study as our parents never studied," says Zara's elder sister Javeda, whose education is being sponsored by a non-profit.