Free study for disabled at central schools
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- Published 16.10.09
New Delhi, Oct. 15: The human resource development ministry has decided to exempt differently abled students from tuition fees at Kendriya Vidyalayas across India for the first time to thwart potentially embarrassing protests against a recent fee hike.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal has approved a Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan proposal to completely exempt students with disabilities from tuition fees and a special levy charged for school development, top KVS officials have told The Telegraph.
The KVS, which runs the central school chain, today issued a notification to its schools declaring this decision, sources said.
The exemption will cover students with any disability listed in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities) Act.
The act at present lists blindness, “low vision”, leprosy, hearing impairments, locomotor disabilities, mental retardation and mental illness as ailments. The government is planning to amend the law to include other disabilities.
Students will need to provide a certificate from a medical board or a government hospital, testifying that they are suffering from “not less than 40 per cent” of the particular disability.
Ministry sources confirmed that the decision to exempt disabled children from tuition fees and contribution to a Vidyalaya Vikas Nidhi — a fund for central school development — was taken in the face of a growing protest.
The KVS has received several representations from disabled students and their parents, and even activists have protested the recent fee hike.
The decision comes soon after Sibal faced an embarrassing hitch while tabling the right to education bill in Parliament, with activists alleging that the present legislation discriminated against disabled children.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened, asking Sibal to personally assure the activists that disabled students would benefit from clauses aimed at helping backward sections.
“This was threatening to turn into a similar thorn in the ministry’s flesh. Exempting disabled students from fees ends the possibility of such protests,” a source said.
Till now, the central schools had been charging a tuition fee of Rs 40 a month for students of Classes IX and X, and Rs 50 per month for students of Classes XI and XII.
All girls, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students, wards of soldiers injured or killed in action, and all boys till Class VIII are at present exempt from tuition fees.
All students till Class X — and non-science students in Classes XI and XII — are at present charged Rs 160 a month for the school development fund, which does not exempt any student.
Science students in Classes XI and XII are charged Rs 200 per month for the fund.
But earlier this month, the Kendriya Vidyalayas decided to raise their fees. They announced tuition fees of Rs 200 a month till Class VIII, raising the amount to Rs 300 for commerce and humanities and Rs 400 for science students in Classes XI and XII.
The contribution towards the school development fund was raised to Rs 240 a month for students till Class X and non-science students of Classes XI and XII. The contribution was hiked to Rs 300 a month for science students in Classes XI and XII.
The new fee structure retained the existing exemptions from tuition fees while continuing to enforce the school development contribution from all students.
Now, disabled students will join the list of pupils exempt from paying tuition fees and will become the first segment of students who will not need to contribute to the school development fund.