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THE DELHI High Court Tuesday directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to make sure that schools do not carry out “commercial activities” on campus. It also asked the board to ensure that a circular issued by it, dated April 19, 2017— directing affiliated school not to indulge in commercial activities like selling of books, uniforms, school bags and stationary — is strictly complied with.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra then disposed of the PIL filed by a social worker, in March, seeking directions to restrain schools from using their premises for indulging in commercial activities. The PIL had claimed that while increasing the cost of the products, schools did not allow the parents to purchase the items from open market at competitive prices.
In its circular to all affiliated schools, the CBSE had said: “The Board, time and again, has issued advisories to all its affiliated schools not to indulge in commercial activities by way of selling of textbooks, notebooks, stationary items, uniforms… The Board has taken serious view of the above violations. Hence, once again your attention is drawn that educational institutions are not commercial establishments and their sole purpose is to provide quality education. Therefore, the schools are directed to desist from the unhealthy practice of coercing parents to buy textbooks, notebooks, stationary, uniforms, shoes, schoolbags, etc from within the premise or from selected vendors only.”
Following the High Court order, school principals said the move will create more problems for parents rather than solving them. The principal of a prominent Delhi school said that private schools in Delhi do not have one set uniform and each school chooses its own. “If we can’t have a vendor in school and cannot ask parents to get uniforms from select vendors, then how can we ask students to wear a specific uniform? Who takes a call?” he said.
“If the court has decided, we will follow its orders. We had a bookshop and uniform store on the school premises for the convenience of parents. We are not getting any benefit from them, and we only kept NCERT books. The order and the CBSE circular makes things problematic for working parents. Students sometimes need supplies, such as notebooks, pencils and pens,” said Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road. Parents, however, claimed that many schools have been “duping” them.
“My child studies in a private school under the EWS category. While I don’t have to pay the fee and am supposed to get subsidy for books and uniform, the cost of these things are inflated in the school store. I cannot afford to buy a notebook that costs Rs 35 in the market for Rs 70 at the school,” said Reeta, the mother of a Class III student.