Parents' associations in New Delhi on Saturday condemned Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal's comments a day earlier that private schools would have a free hand in fixing their fees and sought the prime minister's intervention in the matter.
“The RTE (Right To Education) Act does not contain any provision authorising the government to regulate fees and other charges in private schools. It is very serious matter that an act may encourage and perpetuate the commercialisation of education," said Vijender Gupta, president of the Delhi Parents Association in a statement.
“As per the constitutional mandate and decision of the honourable Supreme Court, in our country commercialisation in the area of education is totally prohibited,” Gupta added.
On Friday, addressing the National Progressive Schools Conference hin New Dlhi ere, Sibal was quoted as having said that fees of private schools could not be regulated despite laws and that once the RTE Act comes into effect April 1, it would override a Delhi law that requires private schools to pay their teachers according to government pay scales.
Ashok Agarwal, president of the All India Parents' Association, also strongly condemned the statement.
“The government has not only powers but the duty also to check commercialisation of education. What is needed is that either the definition part of capitation fee in RTE Act be repealed or provisions containing regularisation of fees to prevent commercialisation of education be inserted in to the Act,” Agarwal said.
Sibal Saturday remained tightlipped about the matter and only said that the government "did not want to encourage commercialisation of education".
The associations have now jointly demanded that prime minister should intervene and that the act's provisions which give private school managemenst a free hand in fixing fees should be withdrawn.
“The central government should enact a comprehensive national law regulating education in private schools. It should contain a regulatory method to check arbitrary and exorbitant fee hikes,” the statement said.
They further denounced the minister's statement that after the education law is notified, private schools could fix the salaries of teachers without basing them on government pay scales, which were increased last year as per the Pay Commission's recommendations.
“(The minister's statement) makes clear that the government's policy is to encourage commercialisation of education, leaving the teachers at private schools at the mercy of the managements. This is totally illegal, arbitrary and exploitative," the statement added.