The AAP government has decided to crack down on private schools in Delhi flouting admission rules and charging under-the-counter fees, a move aimed at cleaning up the city’s education system plagued by rampant corruption and mismanagement.
Stiff penalties are in the offing. According to the proposal, any institute demanding a donation or capitation fee in any form would be fined ten times the amount charged, or Rs 5 lakh, whichever is higher.
If a school breaks rules by interviewing children or their parents for nursery admissions, it would have to pay Rs 5 lakh for a first offence and Rs 10 lakh for each subsequent violation.
The government, which hiked its budget allocation for education by 106% this year, is planning a major overhaul of the school education system. The changes will be introduced by amending the Delhi School Education Act and Delhi School Education Rules 1973.
These modifications are likely to be cleared in the assembly session beginning on Wednesday as the ruling party has 67 of the total 70 legislators.
Once the bill for education reforms is approved in Delhi assembly, it would be sent to the Centre. Changes are likely to be implemented in the next academic session starting April 2016.
The AAP government, which rode to power this February on promises of corruption-free governance, is also drafting a law under which a committee headed by a retired judge would monitor school fee hikes and about 400-500 authorised chartered accountants would scrutinise the accounts of these institutes.
“If the schools are found siphoning fee money to other accounts or making fake bills, they could face imprisonment. The penalties and jail term will be decided soon,” said chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
“The committee will have the power to ask schools to refund the excess money and will prescribe the fee for the next year. Also, there will be penal provision against the school and the management amounting to criminal prosecution and fine.”
After Rajasthan, Delhi too is mulling a law to end the no-detention policy in schools which came with the Right to Education. The government has yet to decide whether the policy will be restricted till Class 3 or 5.
“We are committed to improve the education in government schools, but there are also several complaints with private schools. So we are bringing in changes and will take action against those schools charging capitation fee either in cash or kind,” said Kejriwal.
Admissions for students from the economically weaker sections, for whom every school reserves 25% of its seats as mandated by the RTE Act, will now go online and become centralised.
During the admission process, the government, and not schools, would conduct the draw of lots to decide which students get picked.
There are plans to amend the Delhi School Education Rules, 1973, and withdraw a clause that says private schools should pay their teachers fees equivalent to government school teachers.
In the new arrangement, salaries of teachers in private schools will be fixed as per the minimum wages, and the government will decide on the proportion that is to be paid.
Delhi’s directorate of education (DoE) would also get more teeth. If a school does not comply with an order, the DoE would be able to take over the management or de-recognise it.