Major changes are on the cards next year for students of Mumbai schools. From enforcement of the much-awaited legislation to regulate school fees to making changes to the ‘no-detention policy’, the coming year will bring in changes that could benefit students as well as parents.
One of the major changes is that fees charged by schools from academic year 2015-16 onwards will be covered by the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act, 2011. Schools will be unable to hike fees without the consent of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) executive committee.
Another change will be revamping of the ‘no-detention policy’, which allows automatic promotions of students from Class 1 to Class 8. The Centre has decided to review the policy and make changes to it based on the recommendation of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). The board had found that many students were not benefiting from it.
Parents said that these two changes would not only better the quality of education, but also make it more affordable in the New Year. “These changes are going to have a good impact on school education in 2015,” said Sharmila Tawde, a parent from Borivli.
Tawde said these changes will address the primary concerns of parents — quality of education and its affordability. “Because of the no-dentition policy, my daughter, a Class 1 student, is not studying at all. Also, many schools have been announcing unjustified fee hikes. Parents have been at the receiving end of bad government policies. We hope the proposed changes will make the coming year better for us,” said Tawde.
Education activists, on the other hand, said the government is not geared up to introduce the changes in the coming year. For the school fee act, for instance, the state government is yet to set up committees at the district and state levels to monitor fee hikes and act as appellate bodies, as stipulated by the act.
“These committees will have a major role to play in the coming year, as they have been entrusted to resolve fee disputes between parents and schools. But the government is yet to form these committees,” said Jayant Jain, president, Forum for Fairness in Education, an NGO.
The government is also yet to undertake a comprehensive study on reviewing the implementation of the no-detention policy across the country. “Schools are following the policy in different ways. Some schools have misinterpreted it to mean that exams should not be held at all and are blindly promoting students,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum.
Chavan said there was a need to conduct a study on why schools misinterpreted the policy and find a solution. “Unless we find out why schools misinterpreted it, even if further changes are made to policy, they will not be implemented correctly,” said Chavan.
However, some schools said these changes will not make much of a difference to their functioning. “It will not make much difference in our school because we never failed students in our school before the policy came into place. Also, I do not think the school fee act will put an end to disputes between schools and parents over the fee structure,” said Seema Buch, principal, Gundecha Education Academy, Kandivli.
(Inputs by Srutee Badu)