The protest over fee hike in private schools took a new turn as parents blocked the road outside the mini-secretariat for half an hour, bringing traffic to a halt outside the DC office, Bharat Nagar Chowk and Bhai Bala Chowk, on Thursday. The protesters sat on the road which caused traffic jams on all arteries connecting to Ferozepur Road.
The parents were reportedly unhappy with deputy commissioner Pradeep Aggarwal’s ‘indecisiveness’ on the issue. They entered Bachat Bhawan after the DC’s meeting with school managements and principals got over. They raised slogans against the DC and accused him of not taking any decision regarding readmission fee which private schools are charging every year.
A commuter, Rajesh Mehra, said, “I was stuck in traffic for more than half an hour as the protesters sat in front of my car and did not allow vehicles to cross the road. They refused even after I pleaded with them. So I had to argue my way out of the situation.”
During the meeting, the DC informed schools that the annual fee hike was capped at 8% of the previous year’s fee. If the school was running into profits, then even a 1% hike could be challenged by parents.
Parents, on the other hand, could submit their complaints to the divisional commissioners, so that further action was taken according to the rules framed in the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions Act, 2016.
During the meeting, Aggarwal also stated that schools should not change textbooks every year. Students should be able to use old textbooks which would ease the pressure on the parents. He further told school managements and principals that parents should be prescribed four to five bookstores at the beginning of the session.
SCHOOLS TO MAINTAIN PROPER ACCOUNT OF FEE, OTHER CHARGES
Schools were also directed to constitute a fund where fee and other charges will be credited as prescribed under the act. The bank details and the account number should be shared between the school and member secretary.
FEE STRUCTURE, BOOK LIST TO BE SENT TO DEO BEFORE SESSION BEGINS
To bring in transparency, schools were directed to prescribe the structure of fee and other charges, a month before the beginning of the academic session and send the same to the district education officer who will send it to the concerned department for uploading on portal. Similarly, in case of books, the schools should also prepare a list of books for all classes a month before and the same can be uploaded in the education department portal.