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NEW DELHI: Most government employees celebrated the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission. But for Satya Pal, a postman at R K Puram in south Delhi, the joy of a hike in his salary came with a bitter aftertaste. His 14-year-old son, who had been studying for four years at G D Goenka Public School, Vasant Kunj, was thrown out of the school on July 12.
The reason: School authorities said since Pal's annual salary had gone beyond Rs 1 lakh, his son was no longer eligible to study for free under the government's EWS scheme. The school demanded that he pay Rs 23,000 per quarter if he wanted his son to continue in the institution.
"I was really happy when my son got admission in class IV in such a big school. But now the school wanted me to pay such high fees if I wanted him to keep studying there. Even though my salary has gone up, I am still a postman and earn just around Rs 15,000 per month," says Pal.
The poor postman is now in a fix. "My son is in class VIII. Where do I take him in the middle of the session now?" he asks.
According to Pal, his son, Vinit Kumar, was called to the principal's office on July 12 during recess. Says Vinit, "I was made to wait for more than two hours. Then someone asked me to get my bag and sent me home with a school staffer."
The school officials insist they are only following Delhi government rules which allow only students whose parents' annual income is less than Rs 1 lakh to be covered in the EWS category. "We allowed the boy to continue studying for free in the school for two years after the Sixth Pay Commission was introduced. But he cannot in placed in the EWS category any longer as we have to be accountable to the government," says Naresh Kumar, director, public relations, G D Goenka Public School.
He adds, "The father could not furnish an appropriate income certificate nor could he pay the fees. The boy's EWS seat could have gone to someone else who is more needy."
Advocate Ashok Agarwal, who runs a civil rights group called Social Jurist and from whom Satya Pal is seeking legal guidance says the school's action is brutal and insensitive. "The child was admitted in the school as per rules for the EWS category. So he should have been allowed to continue. It's brutal to throw out a child from school just because his father is better off now. It's probably time the government thought about bringing some change in the rules, especially when the right to education has to be implemented," he says.
However, the government has clarified it has no plans to enable children like Pal's to continue their studies under EWS. Says state education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, "If the postman's income is much more than the prescribed limit for EWS category, he will have to pay the school fees. People work and grow financially. That is why we ask for income certificates of parents every year to keep track."
He adds, "The EWS policy is only for those parents who really cannot afford their child's education in any school. Besides, the RTE norms are still being worked out and haven't been implemented yet."
Pal's current annual income is Rs 1.89 lakh (around Rs 15,000 a month). In 2006, he had submitted a certificate declaring that he earned Rs 6,955 monthly.