Provide Gadgets and Net Packs to EWS Students: Delhi HC to Schools

The HC clarifies that the cost of these gadgets are not part of the tuition fees and have to be given free of cost.

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Education
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While some EWS families don’t have smartphones, those who do are finding it difficult to recharge data packs.
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The Delhi High Court on Friday, 18 September, directed private unaided as well as government schools, including Kendriya Vidyalayas, to supply gadgets of optimum configuration, along with Internet packages to EWS/DG students for accessing online education.

The HC clarifies that the cost of these gadgets are not part of the tuition fees and have to be provided free of cost to needy students by private unaided schools and government schools, subject to the right of private unaided schools to claim reimbursement from the state under the Right to Education Act, 2009.

A division bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula said: "... this court directs that the private unaided schools shall be entitled to claim reimbursement of reasonable cost for procurement of the said gadget(s)/digital equipment as well as Internet packages from the state under Section 12(2) of the RTE Act, 2009, even though the state is not providing the same to its students."

The court also directed that a three-member committee comprising Secretary (Education), Ministry of Education, or its nominee, Secretary Education of GNCTD or his nominee, and a representative from the Committee of Private Schools be set up within a week.

The committee will frame the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for identification of standard gadgets as well as the supplier(s) and Internet package(s) so that Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Disadvantaged Groups (DG) students can access elementary education through digital online means.

“The committee shall identify gadget(s)/equipment, taking into account all relevant factors like their utility, ease of operation, cost, maintenance charges, life, reputation of manufacturers, child-lock etc within two weeks from its constitution,” it said.

"The committee shall also decide as to whether any gadget(s)/equipment needs to be purchased by cluster bidding or by individual schools or hired by way of lease or licence agreement," the order read.

The court was hearing a plea filed by NGO Justice For All through advocates Khagesh B Jha and Shikha Sharma Bagga.

"The private unaided schools shall file their claims for reimbursement under Section 12(2) to the GNCTD within eight weeks from the date of supply of such gadget(s)/equipment. The said claim shall be processed and reimbursed to the schools within eight weeks from the date of their submission," the court added.

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