Right to Education has been designed to ensure access to equitable and inclusive education. However, elite schools continue to conveniently ignore this government directive. Here is a story from the heart of financial capital of India, Mumbai.
Afroz Alam Sahil for BeyondHeadlines
The principal of Andheri based Hansraj Morarji Public School and Junior college has refused to admit to a first standard student citing poverty as the reason. This boy and his mentally challenged elder brother both study in the same school. The younger one was supposed to go to the first standard after completing UKG. The school could not deny admission to the elder brother but the younger one has been targeted. The principal defended the refusal saying her school is prestigious and the family was poor. Family was not able to afford the school’s fees.
On 2nd May, Gurupreet Singh Anand a resident of Lokhandwala complex, Andheri (west) who is also the father of students complained (copy available with BeyondHeadlines) to the education department demanding action against principal Ms. Anjana Prakash, management of the school and restoring the admission.
According to complaint the younger boy of 6 was studying in Balvatika section in Hansraj Morarji School in Campus of Bhawans College at Andheri (west). Two times, on April 9 and 12 his mother approached to the school seeking admission in 1st standard. She was shocked when Anjana Prakash misbehavingly said to her that she cannot afford the school fees. That’s why the principal Ms. Prakash rejected the admission form. The principal also asked her to leave the school premises immediately.
“I have all receipts of fees which I had paid. I also have paid heavy late fees charges but Anjana Prakash rejected my son’s admission as we are poor,” said the father, a computer consultant.
Anand’s elder son is studying at the same college since last 8 years. He is suffering from partial damage in his brain because of which he has certain difficulties in studies. Anand have also submitted medical report to the principal and class teacher. He has paid fees of all 8 academic years.
Anand had stopped paying fees (Rs 18,000, only for one year) for the elder son citing a government scheme for the benefit of mentally-challenged children who gave them free education. Last year central government passed a bill in Rajya Sabha to widen the beneficiary net for disabled children in Right to Education (RTE). Providing the copy of the bill to the school Mr. Anand did not pay the fees only of the last year. It seems the principal was angry and targeted the younger boy by rejecting his admission.
Not enough, younger brother’s name was announced on school’s loudspeaker several times that his parents not paid the fees.
“As per the current law I have not paid only one year’s fee only of my elder son. But Anjana Prakash rejected my younger son’s admission. We are shocked and insulted. I have complained to education department and also to the BMC for restoring the admission,” said Anand. No response to his complains has rendered the younger son without a school and he is now sitting at home waiting for some justice. The larger question is how many of such stories of criminal neglect will awaken our system to provide education to our children.
The other side
The principal has defended her decision, “this is true I have rejected admission. Why are they dreaming to educate him in such a high fi school. Jhopadpatti me rahkar agar wo Dhirubahi Ambani jaise bachchon ko padhane ka khwab dekhenge to galat hoga na. I am not aware about complaint in education department. When education officer will ask I will reply accordingly,” said Anjana Prakash.
(With inputs from our Mumbai Special Correspondent)