Several parents in Haryana, hit by financial crisis due to pay cuts and job loss during the lockdown induced by coronavirus pandemic, have moved their children from private schools to government schools. The Haryana government has thus ordered private schools not to create any hurdles for students who are keen to migrate to state-run schools. The education department has also initiated a process to find the details of migrating students.
Official documents suggest that the government school heads and many teacher unions informed the Haryana School Education Directorate that a large number of students were trying to migrate to their schools but they were unable to admit them through online process as the private schools were not issuing school leaving certificates. The education department then asked the government schools to admit all the students who are seeking admissions in government schools immediately.
‘School leaving certificate not mandatory for migration’
An order issued by the school directorate on June 15 states, “While admitting such students, the private schools concerned should be requested to issue their online school leaving certificate (SLC) within 15 days. If the online SLC is not received within 15 days, then it would be presumed that the schools concerned have issued the certificates.” Mentioning that formal education of students should not be affected due to the coronavirus pandemic, it further stated that the students are authorised to choose the school of their choice as per the Right to Education Act, 2009.
Pardeep Kumar, director of Elementary Education Department told IE that they have already asked the government teachers to attend the schools. “We will admit the students in government schools even on the basis of WhatsApp messages,” he said.
According to officials, almost 50 percent of 52 lakh students study in private schools in Haryana. There are about 24,000 schools in Haryana and about 14,500 are run by the government.
Trend of student migration
The trend of admitting children to private schools emerged over past few decades where the middle and the lower middle class preferred to enrol their children in private schools. It lead to closure of as many as 2,502 government schools due to low enrollment.
Wazir Singh, spokesperson of Haryana Vidyalaya Adhyapak Sangh, a body of government school teachers told IE that job loss and pay cuts due to coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for parents to pay hefty fee to private schools leading to migration of their children to state-run schools. Apart from free education, the government schools also provide free text books and funds for uniform, stationary and bicycles. Free mid day meal is offered to all the students till class 8. And, for the students from dalit, backward and BPL families, there is provision of stipend too.
The government officials and the state-run school teachers’ unions believe the migration of students will have a positive impact. They say if students choose to get admitted in government schools, it will lead to development of these schools like it used to happen earlier.
Private schools object government orders
Following objections raised by parents over hefty fee by the private schools with no regular classes being conducted, the Haryana government had issued orders directing private schools to collect monthly tuition fee from those who can afford to pay and not demand any other charges like building fund or maintenance fund during the lockdown. The private schools, however, have argued that the authorities cannot prevent them from charging the fee at enhanced rate and that that they have been put under grave financial constraints due to the orders.
National Independent School Alliance (NISA) president Kulbhushan Sharma said the private schools in Haryana have as many as six lakh staffers. “We did not ask students to deposit fees for the past three months due to government’s order. And now the government is saying there is no need for school leaving certificates. The government should withdraw its order. If there is no condition of school leaving certificate, who will clear previous dues?,” he asked. And, if students move to government schools without clearing their dues, it will lead to worse financial crisis for the private schools. “The schools in the villages and small towns won’t survive in this scenario,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haryana education minister Kanwar Pal Gujjar said that private school owners had met him regarding the issue and he would look into the matter.
Source: Indian ExpressNews, States