From doctors and book publishers to grocery store owners and members of resident welfare associations, several civil society members have come forward and helped pay the board exam fee of Class 10 and 12 students of Delhi government schools. Saturday is the last date to pay the fee.
In 2019, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had hiked the board examination exponentially. The fee of class 10 and 12 students (general category) in Delhi government schools was increased from ₹375 and ₹600, respectively, to ₹1,500 for five subjects. For SC/ST candidates in class 10, the examination fee was increased from ₹375 to ₹1,200 and for class 12 from ₹600 to ₹1,200.
CBSE controller of examination Sanyam Bhardwaj had explained that the increase was necessary since CBSE is a self-financing board and the expenditure to conduct exams was likely to increase this time due to the Covid-related precautions
Following this, the Delhi government had announced that it would pay the fee for over 3.14 lakh Class 10 and 12 students in government schools. However, this year, owing to fund crunch, the education department asked heads of schools to follow the “2018-19 status”, meaning that the fee had to be paid by students themselves.
Awadhesh Kumar Jha, principal of Sarvodaya Co-ed Vidyalaya in Rohini Sector-8, said, “We had initially planned to help around five or six needy students by paying the fee from our own pockets. But due to the coverage on the issue which raised much awareness, scores of people came forward to pay the fee and we managed to raise around ₹2 lakh, thus helping over 100 students.”
On September 28, HT had reported that principals of government schools were setting up funds and expediting their efforts to arrange the money for needy students. The last date for payment of exam fee had been extended from October 15 to October 31.
“From doctors to publishing houses, everyone contributed to the cause. It has also helped us in other ways. For instance, one of our students was working as a domestic worker to meet her education expenses. When we got to know that, we immediately helped her so that she didn’t have to work anymore,” said Jha, adding that even those who had taken loan to pay the fee were returned the money from the funds collected.
The response is similar across schools. Bijesh Kumar Sharma, principal of Shaheed Hemu Kalani Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in Lajpat Nagar, said, “We raised about ₹1.22 lakh from donors, of which ₹66,500 was used to pay the CBSE board exam fee. The remaining money will be used to provide smart phones to financially weaker students. Alumni members, teachers, bureaucrats, retired officials, and even friends living in countries such as the USA donated money,” he said. “Grocery store owners, RWA members, and vegetable vendors from my locality also made contributions.”
The All India Parents Association also ran a campaign to help class 10 and 12 students with the board exam fee. “The children of the poor should not be burdened with any kind of fee, particularly during a pandemic crisis. We have raised over ₹6.5 lakh, helping more than 250 students,” said advocate Ashok Aggarwal, national president of AIPA.
A senior official from the education department had said the government was unable to pay the fee this year due to “major shortfall in revenue collection” due to the Covid-19 crisis.
In October, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had told HT that the government was functioning “at less than 50% of its revenue collection”.
Taking note of various people and organisations that came forward to help, the Directorate of Education had also released a circular on the matter on October 9. Through the circular, heads of schools were asked to “maintain proper records of such transactions including acknowledgement to the donor and information to the parents whose child’s fee had been paid.”
The department also asked schools to refund the fee paid by students if a donor still comes forward to pay. “A number of requests have been received from parents, expressing their inability to pay the board exam fee of their children in class 10 or 12 due to loss of income during the pandemic,” said a senior DOE official.
The official added that the education department had asked CBSE to waive the fee but the board had expressed its inability to do so. In such a scenario, people approaching schools to offer financial support as a welfare measure was welcome as “a noble cause” in the interest of students, the official added. Despite repeated attempts, there was no response from Delhi government spokesperson on the matter.