It appears that economically weaker section (EWS) students preferred their existing government schools despite the option of free education in Haryana’s “budget” private schools – mostly in villages or small towns – under government schemes.
Under the recently launched scheme, as many as 381 “budget” private schools offered 24,987 seats to EWS students in government schools for which the state would reimburse them Rs 700/1,100 per student. Only 1,665 students from government schools chose to go to these private schools under the scheme which is only 6.6% of the total seats offered. The last date for admission was 27th July.
Admission to private schools was offered under the “Chief Minister’s Equal Education Relief, Assistance and Grant (CHIRAG)” scheme which was introduced in place of a similar scheme introduced by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in 2007 under Rule 134A of the Haryana School Education Rules. , 2003.
Under the Cherag scheme, students whose parents’ verified annual income is less than Rs 1.8 lakh can enroll in private schools from class II to XII. According to CM Manohar Lal Khattar, under this scheme, the government will provide Rs 700 per student from Class II to V, Rs 900 per student from Class VI to VIII and Rs 1,100 per student from Class IX to XII.
However, government sources said that only those schools participated in the scheme which had a very low fee structure keeping in mind the reimbursement given by the government rather than admissions.
An educationist said: “Good private schools, especially in cities, charge more than Rs 3,000 per student per month. In this situation, only those private schools have come forward from villages or small towns that seek a fixed fee from the government in lieu of admission. On the other hand, government school students were not interested in leaving their existing school to join a private school. Moreover, the location of private schools is also important, especially when students do not have a lucrative educational offer.”
A government official said: “Students in government schools get almost free education apart from school dress, syllabus books, mid-day meal and scholarships for certain departments. Hence, students keep all these factors in mind before opting for nearby private schools.”
The official also said that the Cherag scheme could get a better response next year “as more private schools and students get to know about the scheme”. However, the Haryana Vidyalaya Prof Sangh, an organization of government school teachers, is not impressed with the Chirag project and has already staged protests across the state opposing it.
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Wazir Singh, former president of the Sangh, said: “The scheme aims to close government schools. If students have the opportunity to attend a private school for free, sooner or later they will prefer the private school. Instead of paying their fees to private schools, the government should strengthen the infrastructure of government schools and fill the vacant posts of teachers.
However, a senior education department official said: “The scheme is optional; Those who wanted to go to private schools, left. Those who wanted to stay in government schools continued their studies there. Students may have limited options as they can only attend schools that have offered seats. It also bodes well for the education department if students want to continue in government schools as opposed to private schools in their neighbourhood.