Are good schools only for the rich? Will children only get a high quality education if their parents can afford to pay for it? The Right to Education Act aims to give all children a fair chance of a good education. Private schools, except minority schools, are required to reserve 25% of their seats for children from economically disadvantaged families. The Act, expectedly has been resisted by several schools who possibly see a reduction in fee collection.
In Karnataka, some schools who are part of the Karnataka Unaided Schools Management have shut down from Monday for a week - saying there is lack of clarity in how the Act is to be implemented.
And now an allegation from parents at a school in Bangalore that their children, admitted to a private school under the Act, are facing discrimination of a very hurtful kind.
This year parents from families in Nandini Layout admitted their children to a private school, Oxford School, in their neighbourhood that was earlier well out of their financial reach - in the hope of getting them a better education. But the parents allege there was a difference in the way their children were treated.
One mother Reshma, whose daughter switched from a government school to Oxford this year says, "They don't teach them - they make them sit in the last row . They don't ask them anything. They don't give them homework. They are doing this because they are from a poor family."
Her point of view is backed by her neighbour, also called Reshma, whose son attends the same school. She says, "From the last one month, they haven't taught them anything. They keep their books separately. They don't give attendance and make them sit in the last bench. When we ask them why, they tell us, you should ask in the parents' meeting."
Some of the children have had locks cut out of their hair. A Dalit organisation alleges this was done by the school to mark out children who were admitted under the Right to Education quota.
Narayan of the Dalit Samrajya Stapana Samiti says it is clear discrimination.
"In Oxford School they have cut the hair, kept the bags and books separately so that the children should not mix with the others," he alleges.
The children themselves say their hair was cut by their classmate.
There was no response from the school itself - currently closed for a week in protest against what some school managements say is confusion over the RTE act.
But the charges of discrimination is serious enough for the state education department to investigate things more closely. We met an official at the school who had come to find out more, only to find the school locked. He said he would try to meet school administrators and then would report to his superior officers.
Is the Right to Education regardless of socio-economic standing still just a dream for India?