Karnataka considering RTE quota beyond class 8 for SC, ST students

The State government is mulling over the possibility of extending the benefit of the Right to Education (RTE) quota beyond class 8 to students from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities. Of the around 14,000 students who have been admitted under the 25% reservation and have completed class 8, 2,500 or so fall in the SC/ST category. The proposal has been mooted by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education.

S.R. Umashankar, Principal Secretary of the department, said the Department of Social Welfare had expressed interest in the proposal to fund their tuition fee till class 10. “However, we need to have several rounds of discussion as it could be unfair to students from the non-SC/ST category,” he said.

“Families of students admitted under the quota will not be able to pay fees for class 9 in private schools. It will be difficult for them to now study in government schools. So we want the government to extend reservation benefits to all students till class 10,” an official working with the department said.

Sources said the State government was facing a dilemma as the department spends around ₹560 crore on tuition reimbursement to private schools. In fact, the State is yet to reimburse private schools for the 2019-20 academic year. Across all classes, 5.06 lakh students are currently studying in private schools under the 25% reservation quota.

However, the move to extend the facility to only SC/ST students has drawn flak. An autorickshaw driver whose son has completed class 8 in a private CBSE-affiliated school in North Bengaluru said, “The school said that he can continue to class nine if we pay the fee. I earn around ₹20,000 a month, which is just enough to manage my household expenses. The fee at the school is ₹90,000 a year, and I will be unable to pay such a large amount. The local education officers are saying that we can enrol him in a government school, but it will be difficult for him to adjust in a school now even if we admit him in the English-medium section.”


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Sagar Biswas

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