As the feud over pending school fees continues between Delhi Public School (DPS), Gautam Budh Nagar, and the agitating parents, it is the students who suffer.
On Monday, 45 students were rusticated from the school for non-payment of school fees and annual charges. Their parents had refused to pay the fees and have been protesting for the past one year against the 14% fee hike and Rs27,300 levied as annual charge.
The school had kept the results of over 60 children on hold on March 30 for the delay in fee payment. After deliberation, the school finally struck the names of 45 students off its rolls on Monday.
The school alleged that despite several notifications sent to parents over non-payment of fee, the parents chose not to pay heed and they were forced to take that decision. The parents, on the other hand, alleged that despite several notices sent to the school by the state government over ‘illegal’ increase in fees, the school management did not roll back the hike.
In the middle of all this, the question of the rusticated children’s future remains.
Former DPS students, siblings Deepa and Manish (name changed), have been sitting idle at home for the past one week. After their final exams in March, they usually spend their vacations with their friends, excited about the prospects of being promoted to the next class. However, this year, they have been busy making rounds of different schools for admission.
“We had a meeting with the school management after our children were removed from the school rolls. We thought the management would try to negotiate with us to reach the common goal of saving the children from being rusticated. But they made it clear that they are not interested in listening to us and will not readmit the students unless we pay the fees,” said Vishal, a parent.
Similarly, the other 43 children have been left without a school and staring at an uncertain future.
“We have been raising this issue for the past one year, protesting against the unjust fee hike by DPS management. Earlier, the district and state administration promised us that they will help us in this matter. But now, we are left with no option but to knock on every door possible for help,” said Pallavi, another parent.
The parents group had also earlier approached Union women and child welfare minister Maneka Gandhi on March 26, after which she wrote to Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar asking him to ensure that the school doesn’t get away with ‘unjustified’ hike in fees.
The district education department too has not been able to help the parents much. Despite issuing orders to the school management in the past over the ‘unjust’ fee hike, the district education department has now put the onus on the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
On December 26 last year, Mahendra Dev, the joint director of education (Meerut) had written to the DPS management asking for justification for the annual charges and the fee hike.
Now, however, he said, “We had a meeting with education department officials over the issue of fee hike by private schools. It was decided by the commissioner that the issue must be resolved by the CBSE as these schools come under its jurisdiction.”
Irked by the response of the education department, parents allege that the joint director had kept them in the dark about the issue.
“If the joint director now says that the matter is beyond his jurisdiction, why did he issue a letter in the first place? He had raised false hopes with the circular,” said Vishal.
However, all may not be lost for the parents as the state government is reportedly planning to introduce an ordinance to regulate the fee structure and workings of private schools. On Wednesday night, chief minister Yogi Adityanath held a meeting with officials of the education department to find a solution to such problems with private schools.
“We are planning to rationalise the school fee structure. The issue of increased fees by private schools was also discussed in the meeting,” said Ajay Kumar Singh, secretary, basic education, Uttar Pradesh.
“We are hopeful that after CM Yogi’s meeting, an ordinance will be introduced. But the need of the hour is to save our children,” said Anshu, a parent.