Tribune News Service
Srinagar January 3
In a major setback to girl education in Jammu and Kashmir, the state government has withdrawn the scheme to provide free education to girls up to higher secondary level.
The authorities in high schools and higher secondary schools across Kashmir are charging fees from girls for admissions in Classes IX, X and XII. “I paid Rs 1,300 as admission fee for Class IX and Rs 200 for the brochure of the school,” said a girl student of Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Baramulla. Admission fee receipts collected by The Tribune from students from various high schools and higher secondary schools across Kashmir prove that fee is indeed being charged from girl students now.
Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on May 30, 2016, during the Legislative Assembly session, had announced to waive fees for all girl children studying in government-run schools up to Class XII.
Following the announcement in the Budget Session, the then Commissioner Secretary, Education, Shaleen Kabra, on November 25 that year, ordered: “To encourage enrolment of girl students in schools and to further incentivise their education, sanction is hereby accorded to waive school fee charged from girl students in the state-run educational institutions up to higher secondary level with immediate effect.”
Officials said Director, Education, GN Itoo on directions from the higher-ups, had conveyed to schools across Kashmir to charge school fee from girls. “We have been verbally advised by the Directorate of School Education as well as by the Minister Education to charge fee from girls as institutions are facing shortage of funds,” said the principal of a Government Higher Secondary School in south Kashmir. He said the educational institutions were facing difficulties as they have no other source of revenue.
Itoo said, “It was a policy decision made during the Budget Session in 2016. We will come to know in the ongoing Budget Session whether the government will continue this policy or not.”
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