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Millennium Post

Rich schools for the poor

It has been reported that the Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi government is going to file an affidavit in the High Court affirming that it proposes to bring in 15 per cent reservation in admission from classes II to XII in private schools for children belonging to the economically weaker sections. Effective implementation of this rule has the potential to surpass even the benefits which are likely to accrue from the introduction of the Right to Education by the union government, which limits quota at the entry level that is from classes Nursery to I.   

Delhi government proposal would be effected as law after the High Court puts its stamp of approval. Once notified, it would be applicable to all such schools in the national Capital which were given land on subsidised rates by the government with the understanding that appropriate provision would be made for education of the poor. With the schools reneging on the undertaking, the quota for poor has remained a bone of contention between the successive governments and the managements. However, with the government at last showing the will, albeit following court’s intervention, the matter seems to be moving towards settlement with close to 400 schools to be brought in the net.

Schools in Delhi today are big businesses with many influential persons on their managing boards. Sometimes battles similar to corporate wars are fought for controlling a school’s management. With children seeking admission far outnumbering the seats available, positions in the managing committees come at a premium, which in turn influences the pro-rich policies of the schools. A school has the freedom to have a pro-rich policy, however, in that situation it should not be allowed to avail of any subsidy from the government. Having got premium land plots for peanuts, the managements of these schools should be made to adhere to government rules, which at least in letter means to take quality education to the poorer sections of the society. If the government decides to implement the rule in both letter and spirit, it should be welcomed.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and state education minister Kiran Walia however will need to show greater will power and determination to ensure the proper implementation of the quota for the poor once it becomes law. The school managements, as the past experiences show, are going to be tough customers and would use every possible trick to circumvent the proposed law.
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