Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia on Friday tabled two bills in the Assembly, which he said would revolutionise education reform sand go along way in helping the common man.
The Delhi School (Verification of Accounts and Refund of Excess Fee) Bill 2015, better known as the Fee Regulation Bill, was the first to be presented.
“People say that fee of a private school nowadays is more than their salaries, making private schooling for their kids a nightmare. This bill will ensure regulation and accountability,” said Sisodia.
Under this bill, a committee will be constituted to verify the accounts of school. The panel will be headed by a retired high court judge or a retired district judge or a retired officer not below the rank of principal secretary to the Delhi government. If a school is found charging extra fee or diverting money, the committee can direct refund of excess fee and ask schools to re-fix its fees. The schools will also have to submit audited financial return along with proposed fee structure for next session. Schools that fail to comply may face jail term or fine.
Sisodia said the government had no intention of infringing on the autonomy of private schools.
There, however, were some concerns. The bill mandates a quorum of at least 20 parents or 1/5th of that of the total number of students in a class to be able to file a complaint. It also does not set a time frame within which the school will have to refund the amount or pay the fine.
The other bill was The Delhi School Education (Amendment) Bill 2015. This is an amendment to the Delhi Education Act 1973 with the purpose of streamlining nursery admissions. It also prescribes punishment against schools that take donations and screen children.
If any school is found taking donation a fine ,which may extend to ten times the capitation fee or 5 lakh will be charged. For screening, the school will have to first pay 5 lakh for first contravention and 10 lakh for subsequent contravention.
“Our children deserve an education free from bribes and stressful interviews. Reforms will help the government to take action against private schools not following rules,” said Sisodia. A new section 16 (A) has been inserted, which prohibits charging of capitation fee and screening.
Some concerns with section 16 (A): The section prohibits screening only up to the elementary level. So education activists are concerned about students from Class 9 and above being screened.
“Earlier Rule 145 of the Delhi School Education Rules 1973 was a safeguard and prohibited screening for all classes. Now this rule has been dropped and the new provision gives power to schools to screen students from Class 9,” said Ashok Agarwal, a Right to Education (RTE) lawyer.
The government also decided to do away with section 10 (1) in its bill that guaranteed pay parity to private school teachers.
It also added Section 24 that gives graded power to the directorate of education. The director of education will have the power to impose fine, suspend admission, take over management and withdraw recognition of a school.
The government has also amended Section 28, which made it mandatory for the state to take prior approval from the central government to make any changes.