Private schools may be able to increase their fees by 30 per cent every year if the state government accepts the recommendations of a committee that it constituted four months ago to draft guidelines for a fee-regulating authority.
The only three parents of the 17-member committee, however, have rejected the report’s first draft, saying it did not include any of their suggestions. But the remaining 14 members, who are all school representatives, submitted a final version to the committee’s chairman on Saturday.
“The process was a farce as the committee’s composition did not give both sides equal representation,” said Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness of Education, and one of the three parents on the committee.
The government set up the committee in June after a series of skirmishes between school managements and parents over fees.
The parents told a press conference that they did not agree with the report’s suggestion that private schools could include, among other things, housekeeping costs, administration charges and the depreciation of buildings, in their fees.
“It is shocking that none of our suggestions made it to the draft report,” said Avisha Kulkarni, another parent on the committee. “Why have a committee in the first place? The composition of the committee itself is a symbol of injustice.”
But a school representative, P.M. Raut, director of Vidhya Vikas Education Society, which runs about 32 schools in the Mumbai metropolitan area, said parents who want cheaper schooling options were free to pick other schools. “We are open to being accountable for the fees we charge,” he said.
When Hindustan Times phoned Kumud Bansal, the committee chairperson and former education secretary, she declined to take the call. “We have written to the chairperson asking her not to submit the report to the government,” said Jain.
Arundhati Chavan, a parent who is also the president of the Parent-Teachers’ Association, said: “I have received hundreds of calls from parents asking us what the outcome was, and we have nothing to say.”
A total of 160 schools are part of the PTA.