Assam has made it mandatory for all private schools to reserve at least 25 per cent of seats for students belonging to disadvantaged group and weaker sections and provide free education.
The direction of the state government was under the provisions of the right to children to free and compulsory education act, 2009 and Assam right to children to free and compulsory education rules 2011. The notification has been issued to all private unaided non-minority schools and schools of specified category as defined under relevant sections of act of the state. The notification will come into effect from the academic session 2013-14.
"All private unaided non-minority schools and schools of specified category as defined under section 2(n) (iii) and 2 (p) of the act of the state, shall admit in Class-I, at least 25 per cent of the strength of the class, children belonging to disadvantaged group and weaker sections in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory education till its completion," stated the notification.
Further, it was also notified that those private unaided schools and specified category schools which impart pre-school education, must also admit children from these sections to the extent of at least 25 per cent of the strength of the pre-school class.
"We will surely abide by the notification. Thing is that we might need to increase our intake capacity. On reimbursement front we have some queries which we hope will be addressed by the state government," said principal of a top-ranking private school of Assam while reacting to the notification.
The Assam government will reimburse the expenditure incurred by the schools for providing free and compulsory education to the children admitted under this section to the extent of per-child-expenditure incurred by the state, or the actual amount charged from the child, whichever is less. Reimbursement would be made directly in a separate bank account maintained by the school in two instalments of 50 per cent each during the year in the months of September and January. Schools have been directed to submit the list of students admitted in the school to the district elementary education officer for reimbursement in the month of July every year. The school-wise names of the students admitted in these schools will be maintained in electronic form and would be displayed in public domain. "A state level committee, comprising of secretary, finance department; secretary, elementary education department; mission director, Sarva Siksha Abhijan (SSA), Assam; director, elementary education, Assam and director, State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) shall assess the expenditure per child incurred by the state and the local authority for reimbursement of expenditure to the schools," the notification said.
The notification further directed: "Children admitted under these provisions shall not be discriminated from the rest of the children in any manner pertaining to entitlements and facilities and shall not be segregated from the other children in the classroom nor shall their classes be held at places and timing different from the classes held for the other children, nor shall an exclusive section be opened for them."