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Delhi HC directs unaided private, govt schools to provide gadgets, internet to EWS students

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The Delhi High Court on Friday directed unaided private schools and government schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas and others to provide gadgets and internet package to students of the economically weaker section (EWS) to take online classes. A division bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula, while passing the judgement, clarified that the cost of such gadgets and digital equipments as well as internet package are not a part of tuition fee and have to be provided free of cost to the EWS / DG students by private unaided schools and government schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas.

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“The RTE (Right to Education) Act lays down the material foundation for creating equal opportunities for everyone in order to reach the ultimate goal of socio-economic justice. Good quality education translates into better employment avenues. By ensuring that EWS students are admitted to private schools we can strive to achieve socio-economic equality,” the order said. The bench said that the obligation cast upon the schools and the state, by law, as provided under the Right to Education Act, has to be appreciated in the right spirit and added that it is the responsibility of the schools and obligation of the state to assist EWS students to overcome all constraints that deprive them of meaningful education.

“We must also acknowledge that because of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, there could be a tendency amongst the underprivileged children to abandon education for work. This likely fallout needs to be immediately addressed,” the order said. “Otherwise, the gap, between the learning experiences of children from economically weaker sections as against the relatively privileged children, will widen. The fact that EWS students are today offered education through a mode that is based on this divide would further push them back. One of the many steps needed, involves equipping such students with means to have a meaningful education,” it added.

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The High Court also directed the constitution of a three-member committee within a week comprising Secretary, Education, Ministry of Education, Central government or his nominee, Secretary Education, Delhi government or his nominee and a representative of school association committee to frame a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for identification of standard gadgets and supplier and internet package for the EWS/DG students. The order came on a petition, filed by NGO Justice For All through advocates Khagesh B Jha and Shikha Sharma Bagga, seeking directions to provide laptops, smartphones with a high-speed internet connection to EWS students to attend online classes.

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