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Karnataka Govt's free school uniform scheme under fire as Rs 1000 stitching charges pinch parents

In Karnataka, the government's provision of free uniforms for students in government schools sparks controversy as parents bear the cost of sewing, causing financial strain, especially for economically disadvantaged families. Legal interventions like the Master Manjunath case highlight concerns, prompting calls for policy reconsideration to alleviate the burden on parents and ensure uniform quality.

Karnataka Govt's free school uniform scheme under fire as Rs 1000 stitching charges pinch parents vkp
First Published Jun 8, 2024, 12:33 PM IST

In Karnataka, the government's initiative to provide free uniforms to children in government schools has sparked controversy. While the government distributes two sets of uniforms to over 42 lakh students from 1st to 10th standard at the beginning of the school year, parents are left with the task of getting them sewn. This has led to discontent among parents, who argue that the cost of sewing, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 800 per pair, is becoming increasingly burdensome.

Parents from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, including those working as wage labourers, find it difficult to afford the expenses associated with sewing uniforms. Many have expressed their grievances directly to teachers and school authorities, highlighting the financial strain caused by this additional cost.

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The issue has also caught the attention of the legal system, with instances like the Master Manjunath case where the High Court intervened, ordering the provision of stitched uniforms to children. However, such interventions have not led to widespread changes in the policy.

In the past, the government used to allocate a fixed amount to School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMCs) to purchase ready-made uniforms. However, due to complaints regarding irregularities and poor quality, the government shifted to providing cloth instead.

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Education experts argue that instead of addressing issues related to illegal activities and ensuring the quality of uniforms, burdening children and their parents with sewing costs is unjust. They advocate for a reconsideration of the policy, suggesting options such as the government bearing the cost of sewing or reverting to the previous system of providing ready-made uniforms.

The demand for change is not only coming from parents but also from school management committees and guardians who are witnessing the financial strain on families. As the debate continues, there is a growing call for a more equitable solution that alleviates the financial burden on parents while ensuring that children have access to quality uniforms for their education.

It has been in effect for the past few years that parents have to bear the cost of sewing free uniforms for school children. If the parents are asking for sewing expenses or ready-made uniforms, they can make a request to us. It will be brought to the attention of the government.

- Ritesh Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary, School Education and Literacy Department

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