Despite Delhi government’s doubling of the education budget, many municipal schools have failed to provide school uniforms and writing materials to students as required under the Right to Education Act, show three cases filed in the Delhi High Court. The revelation comes at a time when the capital sees an abrupt rise in dropout rates at an elementary level. Unified District Information System recorded a 5.31% jump in dropout rates in the fifth standard in the last three years.
Advocate Ashok Agarwal told Firstpost, “It is the state government’s legal responsibility to implement the RTE Act, in which providing children with uniforms books and writing materials is also a mandate.” Agarwal said that rather than providing uniforms, two out of three MCDs still pay Rs 500 as a uniform subsidy to the student. Only North Delhi Municipal Corporation has started providing stitched school uniforms to the students studying in the schools run by it. “Is it possible to get uniforms at such a low price?” he asks. He also said that in many cases it has been found that poor families spend the subsidy money on other priorities leaving the student without uniform.
“Such situation also add up to reasons why students from poor families drop out of school,” he maintained. Earlier, an order passed by the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court on 27th August, 2014 had observed that the fixed amount for a uniform is not acceptable as a substitute for the uniform. Three cases have been filed against the three MCDs by students and parents in the Delhi High Court, demanding two pairs of stitched uniforms for each student along with timely and adequate disbursal of books and writing materials in the elementary schools.
East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), which is going through severe financial crunch, said in the court, “The supply of notebooks shall start at the earliest. It is submitted that supply of 50,000 Hindi Exercise books has been received and the rest will likely to be received very soon. A sample of the exercise book has been sent to Sri Ram Institute for Industrial Research for testing.”
It also maintained that approximately 10,00,000 exercise books are required for EDMC schoolchildren and the same are being acquired and distributed.
It is to be noted here that the academic session begins in April every year and the EDMC is yet to complete its process of distributing writing materials in the ongoing academic year which will end after a month.
Ashok Agarwal while appearing before the court on behalf of Master Alekh, an EDMC school student, said that NDMC has started distributing the uniforms and not fixed sum as a uniform subsidy. He submitted that it should be followed by the EDMC and SDMC also.
He also told Firstpost that though NDMC has started providing uniforms, it happened only after the cases were filed in the High Court. Moreover, he said that the NDMC has claimed to have been providing students with adequate number of uniforms and writing materials, but it is not specified as to what number of writing materials and uniforms are adequate.
“Paucity of funds cannot be a pretext for not adhering to the RTE guidelines. The Delhi government must ensure that each and every provision of the Act is followed with commitment,” he said.
He also added lack of adequate facilities also increase the number of dropouts in schools.
Recently, Delhi MCD schools saw drastic rise in dropouts. As per an UDISE report, 44,842 students dropped out from various schools in the last two years. Delhi High Court judge Mukta Gupta said in a meeting that 33,744 students of them were from MCD schools.
Updated Date: Mar 02, 2017 15:44 PM