Hyderabad, Feb., 16(NSS): Several speakers have refuted the government’s claim of “inadequate funds” to clear the arrears of fee reimbursement of students at a discussion forum on “fee reimbursements” held under the aegis of the Forum for Analytical and Creative Thinking (FACT). They unanimously demanded that the government clear the arrears and ensure that the students complete their education.
Speaking on the occasion here on Wednesday, the well-known educationist and MLC, Mr Chukka Ramaiah, urged the State government not to make higher education inaccessible to the poor students and release funds under the fee reimbursement scheme. He said that the fee reimbursement was not the gift of late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy but it was the result of continuous struggle by the people. Stating that in countries like France and Hungary, the governments were bearing the entire expenditure for education, he demanded that the State and Central governments follow the example.
Mr Ramaiah said that the Congress came to power in the State on the assurance of providing financial aid for the poor students pursuing higher education. He also said that though it boasts itself as a government of unprivileged sections, but when it comes to the poor people, its priorities were changing. Stating that education was the only tool to achieve “social justice”, he said that expenditure being earmarked in this regard was not a welfare measure, but an essential investment.
The president, FACT, Mr Nagi Reddy said that the present arrears of fee reimbursement have pegged at around Rs 3,400 crores and was bound to go up to Rs 6,000 crores in the next academic year. Reminding that the Supreme Court had directed the State government to pay the amount to students, he said that it should release 50 per cent of the amount within a week and the remaining in the ensuing State budget.
The Samajika Nyaya Sadhana Samithi president, Mr G Ramachandra Rao, said that the government has a crucial role in the eradication of economic inequities and the scholarships and fee reimbursement for the poor students form an important aspect in this respect. Referring to dropouts, he said that earlier it was confined to school education and now it was being witnessed in higher education too. While some 25 lakh students were entirely depended on the financial assistance provided by the State government, the latter was trying to escape from its responsibility by resorting to delay tactics on fee reimbursement.
The OC Welfare Association president, Mr Karunakar Reddy, said that the students were experiencing mental trauma due to the State government’s indifferent attitude. He held the government responsible for the suicide of Varalaxmi, who resorted to the extreme steps as she was not able to pay the fees following pressure from the college management. He also said that the State government was pulling up the private college managements citing dearth of infrastructure instead of releasing funds under fee reimbursement. He demanded that the government establish more colleges in the State and equip them with all needed facilities.
The FACT joint secretary, Dr Uday Bhaskar, Mr Krishna Reddy and Prof. Borla Rama Swamy, also spoke. (NSS)