Schools and parents caught in fee rows can now approach regulatory bodies across the state to resolve them.
The state government has constituted fee regulatory panels in each of the state’s divisions, as specified under the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act, 2011. The school management or parents can approach these panels if a fee hike goes over the 15% increase proposed by schools and approved by the executive Parents Teachers Association panel.
It is not yet clear when parents can start approaching the panels, as an interim Bombay HC order passed on December 22 last year allowed schools to hike their fees by at least 15% without the approval of the executive PTA panels.
Mumbai’s five-member panel was appointed by the school education department. It is headed by retired district court judge, Krishnaprasad Warrier. Chartered accountant Santosh Parab, retired director of education Mohan Awate, divisional chairperson of the Maharashtra state education board Duttatray Jagtap and deputy director of education Mumbai region BB Chavan are its members.
According to education activists, the HC must be informed about the creation of the panels, before the panels can start hearing disputes.
Under the act, the school management has to submit the proposed fees for the new academic year to the PTA for approval six months before the start of that academic year. However, as the government had not formed panels last year, unaided schools in the city had sought a stay on the act from the high court, as they did not know how to finalise fees.
With this recent notification, however, the government has finally put in place all mechanisms required to implement the act. The revision committee, which parents and schools can approach if they want to appeal against the decision of the divisional panels, was already constituted last year.
Activists said the government should now start implementing the act, as there are several fee disputes pending with the education department.
“We are getting complaints from parents almost every day about schools indulging in unjustified fee hikes,” said Jayant Jain, the president of the Forum for Fairness in Education, a non-government organisation working for education. “More than 20 complaints are pending with the education department as the fee act is not being implemented.”