“The recent Government Resolution dated May 21, issued by the Government of Maharashtra, allowing private unaided schools to increase fee up to 50 per cent and also allowing them to collect Rs 50 per month towards arrears of VI Pay Commission from January 1, 2006 is totally unjustified and hence we will be challenging it through Forum for Fairness in Education,” says Dr M S Deshmukh, president of Students’ Welfare Association and vice-president the All-India Federation of PTA.
Deshmukh informs, “As per earlier GR dated March 4 , 2010 the government has clearly stated that schools have to collect/charge fees as per 2008-2009 fee structure and that if at all the school wish to hike the fees it should be in accordance with the GR dated July 22, 1999 which clearly states that a) Prior approval of PTA General Body is mandatory for fee hike and b) The fee hike proposal approved by the General Body of PTA should be sent to Deputy Director of Education for final decision/approval. The schools can by collect revised fee only after receiving approval from the deputy director of education”.
“The matter is still pending with the High Court for final decision and is hence sub-judice. The government has no authority to issue a new GR every now and then when the matter is pending in the high court. The HC had instructed the government to file its reply on or before May 8, 2010, which concerned officials failed to do. Thus it’s a contempt of court order,” says Deshmukh.
Anuj Kumar Pandey, secretary AIFPTA, expresses concern by stating, “Whereas the present fee structure of almost all the private unaided schools is already very high, how can the government allow them to hike fee and bring in a higher ceiling on fee hike? The government should have checked/verified and audited their accounts/income and expenditure accounts before allowing them to increase fee”.
Pandey informs, “Almost all the unaided schools have been increasing their fee every year since 2006 under the guise of 6th Pay Commission and have been collecting huge amounts towards various other unapproved and non-prescribed fees. The amount of increase during the past five years varies between 60 and 70 per cent. Many schools are not even paying salaries as per the V Pay Commission to teaching and non-teaching staff. The latest GR will encourage the (management) to increase the fee further due to the blank permission. It is very easy for them to manipulate the accounts”.
Suggesting the steps government should have taken Pandey says, “The government should have appointed a fee monitoring committee in line with Duggal committee to scrutinize the elements of profiteering by school managements instead of giving them blank permission to hike fees up to 50 per cent.”
He further expressed “There are more than 2000 private schools in Mumbai. Does the government have machinery to scrutinize the accounts of all those schools within a period of one month or before the next academic year? It will take years to do the same Therefore, it is nothing but an eye-wash. The government is taking parents for a ride every now and then.”
“The Hon. High Court had asked the government to constitute a Statutory Committee to decide the Fee Structure of unaided schools but instead of doing so the government is coming out with a new idea every month thus keeping the issue alive and allowing school management to hike fees as per their own sweet will”.
He says “More than 60 per cent of the schools either do not have PTA or democratically-elected PTAs. Therefore, no transparency could be maintained while approving the fee hike proposal. How many private unaided schools are willing to share their accounts/income and expenditure accounts with parents? We have tried it under RTI but not a single school provided the details. Do we expect them to share genuine accounts with parents? No way!”
These are some of the reasons which the government has to consider before allowing school managements to hike fees, failing which we will challenge them in High Court with some eye opening information about many schools,” assert Deshmukh and Pandey.