Latest GR brings relief to parents
Parents welcomed the latest government order restricting schools from hiking fees beyond what they were charging for the 2008-2009 academic year.
“This is great news, it really comes as a relief,” said Sanjita Prasad, whose daughter studies at Vibgyor High School.
“With so much opposition to the Bansal report the government is trying to buy time in the meantime,” she added.
One February 23, the government had issued a government resolution (GR) saying that schools could hike their fees reversing their earlier stand.
“We met the principal secretary (school education) a few days ago to tell him that there was confusion on this matter. We appreciate that the government has come out with this latest order which is in support of the parents,” said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education and one of the three parent members appointed to the Bansal Committee.
Parents also pointed out that some schools have already hiked their fees.
“While this is a relief, the government should have said something before the fees were hiked. Why have we spent so much on facilities that the children do not even use?” said Shivaji Shetty, whose children study at DAV School at New Panvel where he said fees had been hiked by 50 per cent earlier this year.
“Schools will have to refund the excess fees they have charged. But they won’t be willing, and there will be more litigation,” said Jain.
He added that the government should soon take a final decision on the issue.
‘How will we pay our teachers?’
School authorities responded cautiously to the government’s latest order stating that private, unaided schools cannot raise their fees this year.
The government resolution (GR) said schools would have to abide by a previous order (dated May 8, 2009) that said that the schools should not hike fees higher than the amount charged for the 2008-09 academic year.
“We will look into it and see what it means. The government had previously said schools could hike their fees by 15 per cent, so the GR probably is for those schools that were making unreasonable profits,” said Swati Popat Vats, director of Podar Jumbo Kids at Santacruz.
Principals in the past had pointed out that fee hikes are inevitable given inflation, higher electricity bills and Sixth Pay Commission Scales for teachers.
School authorities said the GR would mean a rethinking of finances and budgeting.
“Schools generally plan for the children’s all-round development with various facilities from libraries to sports to teachers’ salaries and the costs go up every year,” said Indu Mathur, principal of Apeejay School at Kharghar. “We will have to work out the equation of our expenses.”
Schools are also worried that the worst hit will be the teachers.
“This will mean a salary freeze for the teachers. How will we be able to pay them?” questioned Rohan Bhat, principal of Children’s Academy at Malad.
“This is absurd. It will hit all schools. The issue will go back to court. Instead of creating a policy, the government has created a new problem."