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Private School Principals Discriminate Against EWS Category Children. Not Fellow Students: Study

Reasons behind the discrimination seem to range from health, hygiene concerns to non-payment of reimbursements.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:February 9, 2018, 9:33 AM IST
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Private School Principals Discriminate Against EWS Category Children. Not Fellow Students: Study
Picture for representational purpose. (Getty Images)
New Delhi: The latest report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (Ministry of Women and Child Development) has found that almost 14% principals do not favour children from economically weaker sections (EWS) studying in their school.

The reasons behind this discrimination seem to be ranging from health, hygiene concerns to non-payment of reimbursements. According to Section 12(1)(c) of the Right To Education Act, 25% of seats in private non-aided schools are to be reserved for children from economically and socially weaker sections of society.

The commission, that conducted the study titled ‘A Study on Implementation of Section 12(1) (c) of RTE Act, 2009 in Delhi pertaining to Admission of Children from Disadvantaged Sections in Private Schools,” found justifications given by the principals as lacking logic and evidence.

“Private schools, especially in Delhi, have been fretting over EWS admissions. As we have listed in the report, the schools claim that children from different backgrounds do not interact with each other. Our study, though, has found that students do not even know which children are from the EWS category, let alone begin to discriminate among them,” said Priyank Kanoongo, a member of the Education Division.

Members of the study conducted onsite visits to select schools, which provided them an opportunity to interact with nearly all students. The children were also observed during classroom and playground interactions. It is here that they found out that nearly 94% of the general category students have never discriminated against students from EWS or DG (Disadvantaged Group) category.

“If the students do not discriminate among themselves, then why do principals come up with reasons against EWS admissions? As it is clear from the views expressed by the principals and teachers, the commission has found that the lack of training to create opportunities for these children to be effectively adjusted into the school environment gives rise to such biased views,” said the report.

School principals claim non-payment of reimbursements for additional educational facilities by the government. “Minimal amounts, somewhere between Rs 600 to Rs 1000, was received but is not sufficient to support the EWS students by buying stationary, books and uniform for them. In fact, there are a few schools that have not received reimbursements for the last two years,” said a school principal.

The schools further claim that parents of EWS students produce fake income and caste certificates. Without a proper mechanism to validate and authenticate the documents produced by the EWS parents, principals have been calling for government intervention in this regard.

“Few of the principals believe that EWS students are more prone to initiate a fight with other children, steal stationary items, use abusive language or misbehave. This, the schools feel, would be difficult to solve due to a bad example being set in their home environment,” said the report.

Also, the students are supposedly slow learners of English and have difficulty following the language in class. The principals further voiced their concerns over health, hygiene of EWS students in their school.

After hearing their complaints, members of the commission addressed the principals and said, “The expenditure incurred by the state in providing books will be reimbursed. Also, submissions by schools that the monetary support is insufficient to support the education of children under the EWS/DG category reinforces the fact that the cost of books in private schools is high. The main reason for increased expenditure is that private schools do not follow NCERT books and curriculum.”

The commission members also pointed out that pre-primary classes are the entry-level in private schools, and at that age, a child is not expected to know any language other than his/her mother tongue. “So, to generalise that all EWS/DG students are slow learners and attributing this to not knowing the English language is not supported by any logical evidence,” said the report.

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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