|Students in a computer lab at a school in Amritsar. File picture
New Delhi, April 15: Private schools have forced the government to water down an initiative to check female foeticide and encourage education of girls.
The human resource development ministry had last year announced a scheme waiving fees for single girl children from Class VI to XII.
But a section of private educational institutions did not want to exempt girls from the fees for fear of losing revenue. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has now given them a breather.
In a circular issued on March 27, the CBSE has listed two sets of guidelines ' one for the government-run Kendriya Vidyalayas and the other for private schools.
The Kendriya Vidyalayas, according to the circular, will have to follow the government policy in toto but a concession has been granted to private providers.
“All the Kendriya Vidyalayas would continue to give fee waiver to single girl children (except meals and transportation fee) from Class VI to XII as per the scheme already introduced by the board,” the CBSE said.
The same is not applicable to private players. “All private independent schools affiliated to the CBSE may also consider extending waiver of school fee (excluding meals and transportation fee) to single girl children studying in Classes IX to XII,” the circular said.
This means the private schools have been exempt from the fee waiver scheme for three years ' from Class VI to VIII.
The CBSE’s earlier circular issued immediately after the ministry’s announcement had asked all schools, regardless of their private or state-run status, to implement the scheme. The circular is advisory in nature but all institutions are expected to follow it.
One of the main objectives behind the scheme is to improve the status of the girl child and women, particularly in view of rampant female foeticide in the affluent states of north India, such as Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.
Several private schools, however, showed little enthusiasm.
Carmel Convent, a well-known school in Delhi, filed a case in the high court challenging the CBSE’s October 15 circular. The note had directed all affiliated schools to “grant full waiver of fees, including tuition fee and all other fees under any head, except meals and transportation fee”. The schools were to implement this latest by April 2006.
Carmel Convent argued that the girls’ school stands to lose around Rs 20 lakh a year because of the scheme. The fees waiver, the school underscored, doesn’t make any differentiation based on economic criteria.
The CBSE then backtracked and issued the second circular that gave some relief to private schools. Delhi High Court later dismissed the case.