The government’s proposed law on regulating school fee hikes has left parents, activists and school authorities unhappy. The state assembly cleared the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Collection of Fee) on Wednesday.
A clause that makes it mandatory for any fee hike to be placed before the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) has left both parents and school authorities worried, though for separate reasons.
“PTA elections are often rigged,” said Avisha Kulkarni, a parent who had to withdraw her daughter from a school over a fee-related tussle earlier.“The bill requires PTA consent but the management can easily pick and choose which parents they want on the PTA, those who will be sympathetic to them.”
“In practice, parents don’t have much say in the PTA because they are in the minority,” said Milind Wagh, secretary of the non-profit group Forum Against Commercialisation of Education. “If the management proposes a hike, the teachers are unlikely to object to it.”
School authorities are concerned that curbing their freedom to hike fees will come in the way of paying their teachers Sixth Pay Commission salaries.
“This is unreasonable,” said Rekha Vijayakar, principal of Guru Harkrishan School in Santacruz.
“Schools don’t know what to do because paying Sixth Pay Commission salaries is mandatory but the government doesn’t allow schools to hike fees either.”
Representatives of the Unaided Schools’ Forum, refused to comment saying they had not seen the bill. “I need to go through it before I can comment,” said SV Kedia, joint secretary of the Forum.
However, school authorities said that prime facie such a fetter on their right to administer the school could be in violation of the Supreme Court order that granted autonomy to private unaided school managements.