Braving the scorching summer heat, nearly 400 parents and children went on a day-long fast to press their demand for representation in the state committee to discuss ‘arbitrary’ fee hike by private schools. The protesters were also given support by district associations.
The protest was held at the main entrance of the district magistrate’s office on Sunday. Parents demanded a representation, inclusion of either a parent or a public representative, for putting forward the issue of fee hike before the committee.
“The committee has a representative who runs a private school in Ghaziabad. We are against this person’s inclusion. Why have parents not been given any representation? Either of the two MLAs from Ghaziabad should be a part of the committee to ensure a fair decision. We will also be going to meet chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy CM Dinesh Sharma. If our demands are not met, we will boycott the forthcoming local bodies’ election,” said Seema Tyagi, a parent.
The state committee comprises nine members, including principal secretaries, secretaries, directors of secondary education and higher education departments, and the secretary of basic education. It also has representation from a private school in Ghaziabad, an educationist from Lucknow University and a journalist from Lucknow. However, parents have not been represented in the committee.
“Apart from the inclusion of our representatives, we also want retired judges and government auditors to be a part of the committee for increased transparency. The committee has one media representative, but we want three independent journalists to be included. Till the government brings out an ordinance, it should issue an order staying the hiked fee,” said Neeraj Bhatnagar, another parent.
The protesters also called for non-deposition of hiked fee till the government brings out an ordinance over the issue of ‘arbitrary’ fee hike by private schools in the district. The protesters had brought along banners, posters and carried out their fast outside the DM’s office.
However, no official from the district administration visited them.
The Ghaziabad district magistrate had earlier said that schools will not levy the annual charges till a district committee scrutinises their accounts and arrives at a decision. However, the DM backtracked and later said that the decision of any intervention into the hiked fee will be taken by the state committee.
The district committee that was formed to look into the issue submitted a report (on May 11) to the DM, which has been forwarded to the state officials for inclusion in any policy decision by the state committee.
However, many schools failed to provide documents to the committee officials.
“Since there has been no further order about annual charges, the schools are now pressurising parents to pay the fee. They are also demanding a penalty in case of a delay in depositing the hiked fee. This should be immediately stopped by the state government,” said Mukesh Kumar, a parent from Vasundhara.
“Protests are held every year and the district administration fails to address the issue every time. We want the fee to be fixed, as has been done in other states,” said Manu Joshi, a parent from Vaishali.