An association of private schools in Ghaziabad has decided to shut nearly 128 schools on Thursday as a mark of protest against the district administration’s decision to set up a committee to inquire into allegations of the unjustified fee hike. The committee comprises the additional district magistrate (finance), district inspector of schools and the basic education officer.
The president of the Independent Schools’ Federation of India (ISFI) on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the district officials and said that 128 private schools will observe a ‘token strike’ on Thursday against the district administration’s order to set up the committee. The committee is to look into the schools’ accounts and investigate other complaints forwarded by parents and associations.
“The district magistrate is not empowered to form a committee that can study our accounts. We already submit our balance sheets to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and checks are also conducted by the income-tax (I-T) department. The committee is not empowered to demand a breakup of the annual charges,” said Subhash Jain, president of ISFI.
Jain quoted a July 2014 order of the Allahabad high court (Lucknow bench) in this regard. He said that schools have been paying higher salaries to teachers to meet the requirements of the seventh pay commission.
The order for the formation of district committee was rolled out by the former district magistrate, Nidhi Kesarwani, who received a number of complaints by parents related to ‘arbitrary’ fee hike and also about schools not adhering to CBSE norms by allegedly forcing a sale of uniforms, books by private publishers and other materials.
There have already been two meetings in this regard, in which representatives of 15 and 13 private schools took part, respectively.
During the meeting, the school managements had their given consent, in the presence of parents’ associations and district officials, of handing over their accounts to the committee for scrutiny and also enforcing CBSE norms.
“The work of the committee is only to inquire and submit the findings to the district magistrate (DM). The DM will later send the observations to the state officials, who are expected to come up with a policy based on the suggestions. The committee is formed to ensure that guidelines and norms by the CBSE and state government are followed along with the compliance of orders passed by different courts,” said Rajesh Yadav, additional district magistrate (finance).
“At the district level, we have no power to take any policy decision. The recommendations and the observations by the committee will be sent to the state officials. As many as 28 schools have already given their consent during the meeting,” he said.
The committee will submit its report to the district magistrate on May 11. However, Jain alleged that complaints to the district administration were made by several local ‘politicians’, responsible for forming the associations and complaining against the private schools.