Confusion prevailed among the schools and parents following the interim order of the Bombay high court, which allows schools to hike 15% fees in the coming academic year.
The order issued on Tuesday by a division bench of justice Anoop Mohta and justice Amjad Sayed allowed educational institutes to increase their fees by 15% in 2016-17, pending the court’s final order. The judges were hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the schools, challenging the Maharashtra Educational Institutions [Regulation of Fee] Act, 2011, enforced in December last year.
But it has led to confusion among parents because it does not mention if schools that had already hiked fees in this academic year can do so again for the next.
“There is a lot of confusion among parents of almost 90% schools. They fear the schools will hike fees again by 15%,” said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education, a parents and schools’ body. The confusion is because of the fact that as per the Fee Regulation Act, 2011, the school can increase the fees only once in two years. “Parents fear in view of the high court order, the school management will again hike the fees again,” said Jain. He said parents-teachers associations (PTAs) cannot be asked to fix school fees. “The parents can be easily fooled, blackmailed or managed during elections and at the time of a fee-hike proposal. Hence the fees should be decided by the government,” said Jain. The forum, too, is planning to intervene in the matter in the high court.
Many schools have decided to hike their fees. “We will propose a fee hike now that the order is out, but we will take PTAs’ consent,” said Zeenat Bhojabhoy, principal, Jamnabai Narsee School, juhu.
But some schools who have already hiked fees in this academic year are still unable to fix their fees.
“We have proposed a hike of 10% each year for two years in 2015-16 itself because the act allows a fee hike only once in two years. But we have informed the parents that in case of implementation of a new pay commission or other expenses, the fee may be hiked further with approvals,” said Amol Dhamdere, director, Sanjivani International School Kharghar. “ Now we don’t know if we can go ahead with it. “
The petition will next be heard on January 18, 2016.