'Is the state govt serious about controlling school fee hikes?' | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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'Is the state govt serious about controlling school fee hikes?'

Parents are demanding that the government come up with a law to regulate fee hikes by private, unaided schools. On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court set aside earlier state orders regulating the fee hikes.

mumbai Updated: Sep 02, 2010 02:13 IST

Parents are demanding that the government come up with a law to regulate fee hikes by private, unaided schools. On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court set aside earlier state orders regulating the fee hikes.

"Parents and organisations working in the field of education should focus on getting the government to come up with an act to mandate fee hikes. Otherwise, parents will be at the mercy of school managements," said M.S. Deshmukh, president of the Students’ Welfare Association. "We get stuck in the same cycle every time — the government issues an order, the court stays it and parents are forced to pay higher fees."

Parents pointed out that, in accordance with the landmark T.M.A. Pai judgement of 2003, Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have already come up with a law to regulate fee hikes. However, there is no such law in Maharashtra.

"It’s been seven years, but there’s still no law," said Milind Wagh, state secretary of the Forum Against Commercialisation of Education. "What has the government been doing all this while? Are they serious about controlling fee hikes?"

School managements were relieved by the court verdict. Now, they won’t need to take multiple permissions before hiking fees or make their accounts public.

"Having to consult so many different parties and putting up our accounts on our websites could have been misused and it would have been a hassle," said Rohan Bhat, principal of Children’s Academy at Malad. "Most schools consult their parent-teacher associations and have good relations with parents, so it will not make a big difference."

A member of the Unaided Schools Forum said, on condition of anonymity, the court upheld their stand that private schools should have full autonomy in recruitment, admissions and fees. "Our stand was that the government cannot regulate our fees, which the court accepted," said the member.

'Students shouldn't have to pay exorbitant, unjustified fees'

State School Education Minister Balasaheb Thorat said that a decision on appealing the court order against state regulation of fee hikes by private, unaided schools will be made after taking legal advice.

With the court ruling against state regulation of fee hikes by private, unaided schools, what will be the government's next step?
We'll wait for a copy of the order and ask our Legal Department to study it. We'll decide whether to appeal after that. Our intention is to ensure students are not charged exorbitant, unjustified fees.

How do you react to the order?
When the court gives a judgement, we have to accept it, study the points made and make amends.

Was the state order that put the parent-teacher association at the centre of fee decisions and made it compulsory for schools to display their accounts online not worked out properly?
It was designed with the court's recommendations in mind.
A committee was formed to formulate fee structure, suggestions and objections were invited and public meetings were held. We did our best.