Caught in fee-hike row, Mumbai schools and parents are unable to find any relief in education minister Vinod Tawde’s stance on the matter. They said that Tawde’s recent statement that schools can increase fees only by 15% in two years goes against the school fee regulation law.
According to the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Collection of Fee Regulation) Act, 2011, which was enforced from 2015, if the difference between fees decided by the management and approved by the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) executive committee is not more than 15%, then the fees approved by the PTA will be binding. But if it is more than 15%, management can approach divisional fee revision panels set up by the government.
SC Kedia, general secretary of the Unaided Schools Forum, said that the minister is unaware of the Act’s provisions. “The Act doesn’t bar increasing fees. As per the rules, fee disputes are be resolved between management and PTA,” said Kedia. “Misleading statements (by the minister) are creating a rift between schools and parents, and will disturb management of school fees.”
Even the parents are against setting a cap on the fee hikes. They want the department to carry out a financial audit of the school’s accounts, to ascertain whether the proposed hikes are justified. “We are not against fee hikes if they are reasonable and justified. However, many schools use it as an excuse for profiteering, and we want to curb that,” said Jayant Jain, president, Forum for Fairness in Education.
Despite this, Tawde maintained that his statement was in line with the fee regulation Act. When asked on what basis he made the statement, Tawde replied on text, “The school fee regulation Act, 2011.”