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Why Haryana abrogated Rule 134-A for school students

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The Haryana government’s move to omit Rule 134-A of the School Education Rules, which provided 10% reservation to meritorious but needy students in private schools, and instead implement the quota under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act has left students and parents confused. HT assistant editor Hitender Rao tries to bring clarity on the issue.

What was Rule 134-A?

Rule 134-A provided 10% reservation in recognised private schools to meritorious students belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS) and below poverty line (BPL) families.

What is the percentage of reservation under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and who gets it?

Under the central law, 25% reservation is provided in private unaided schools for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. These categories include Scheduled Castes, backward classes, children with special needs and children of war widows. The Act provides free and compulsory elementary education from Classes 1 to 8.

Why was the central law preferred?

Haryana wanted to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and provide reservation under it to children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. The central law would override the state law from which Rule 134-A was born. In fact, the state law would be repugnant to the central law that should have been implemented by Haryana since 2009 but was not.

What is the difference between Rule 134-A and the central law?

Only 10% reservation was provided to meritorious needy students till Class 12 under Rule 134-A, while under the RTE law, the quota is 25% for every poor student till Class 8 irrespective of his/her merit.

Is there a screening process for the two reservation modes?

Poor students needed to take an evaluation test for getting admission under the Rule 134-A quota but no screening is done under the RTE. EWS students can go to a private neighbourhood school.

Since RTE provides free education till Class 8 only, what would be the fate of needy students admitted under Rule 134-A who want to study further?

Education officials have assured that every student admitted in a private school under Rule 134-A will continue to avail free education till Class 12 and the school management will continue to get reimbursed according to existing norms.

What are the prospects for poor students who wish to study beyond Class 8?

The National Education Policy, 2020, speaks of a review to ensure that all students, particularly those from underprivileged and disadvantaged sections, have universal, free and compulsory access to high-quality and equitable schooling from early childhood care and education (age three years onwards) through to higher secondary education (until Class 12).

How will the switch to RTE affect private schools?

Earlier, there was no provision for reimbursement of expenses to private schools that admitted students under Rule 134-A, resulting in litigation. Now private schools will get reimbursement of each child’s expenses as per Section 12 (2) of the RTE law.

Why was there litigation in the matter?

Rule 134-A provided that schools shall charge fee from the poor students at the rate as charged in government schools, a provision opposed by private schools. When the schools challenged Rule 134-A, the high court ordered them to admit students under the rule but asked the state to reimburse the schools as per RTE norms. This meant schools were bound to admit poor students till Class 12 but would only get reimbursements till Class 8.

How will schools be reimbursed?

A school providing free and compulsory elementary education shall be reimbursed expenditure incurred by it to the extent of per-child-expenditure incurred by the state, or the actual amount charged from the child, whichever is lower.

Which schools will not be entitled for reimbursement?

Schools that are already under obligation to provide free education to a specified number of children on account of them having received any land, building, equipment or other facilities, either free or at a concessional rate will not be entitled for the reimbursement.

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