The Arvind Kejriwal government of Delhi has released an order that asks private schools to expedite the process of online verification for reimbursement of the tuition fees of Muslim and other minority students. While the term “minority”, although used for political purposes everywhere, refers to several religious communities including Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians in the domain of education, Muslims being the overwhelming constituent of this section of the Indian demography, a benefit for minorities in effect translates to a benefit for Muslims. Legally, the term “minority” has no validity outside the domain of education.
The discriminatory order issued on 12 May asked all private schools to update Delhi’s e-district portal with the necessary details. The order states that inaction from the private schools is “adversely affecting the motto of Delhi Government regarding timely payment under the scheme to beneficiary student”.
The Kejriwal government has asked all the DDEs to ensure that the online verification of the applications for the state-funded scheme is completed for the reimbursement of tuition fees to the minority students of Classes 1 to 12 for the years 2020 -21 and 2021-22. Technically, the Delhi Directorate of Education, Delhi DoE, had issued the order.
The directorate ordered Delhi’s private schools to complete the process by 12 May, which means the very day when the order was issued. Failing to comply may lead to an adverse assessment of the school by the Kejriwal government — which seems to be the implicit message.
The circular has asked DDE (zones) to “collect a certificate from the concerned schools that the online verification has been done as per the guidelines of the scheme and also issue a certificate under the signature that they have also verified the application at the zonal level as per the guidelines of the scheme”. The Kejriwal government, through the directorate, has advised officers to submit these certificates in hard copy at the centres. A copy of the notice appears below.
The issue of fees charged by schools in Delhi has been volatile for private schools, as they are run either by missionaries or trusts and other associations of Hindus. Since missionaries are Christian, they are immune to interference by the state. Thus, in effect, an order to private schools means an order to Hindu-run schools alone.
At the same time, many parents allege arbitrary fee hikes by private schools. Some have in the past two days resorted to protests, demanding answers from the government. But they will get no relief if
- the school is a convent or
- the parents are not from the economically weaker section or
- the parents are not Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis or Sikhs or
- the parents are not from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC
The said scheme of the Aam Aadmi Party government has guaranteed the reimbursement of the tuition fees of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC students of Classes 1 to 12 who meet the criteria as listed in the scheme. The scheme aims to provide affordable education to students who belong to low-income households.