Finally, the UT administration has drafted a policy and mechanism to regulate fees at private, unaided schools. Education secretary Sarvjit Singh confirmed that the proposal has been forwarded to the UT administrator, Kaptan Singh Solanki; and that inputs would also be sought from schools and other stakeholders before a final policy.’
This comes a week after HT highlighted the authorities’ failure to devise a “permanent mechanism” despite directions by the Punjab and Haryana high court three years ago to take a decision on the matter within six months. It must be noted that the Solanki’s office had forwarded the issue to the UT adviser - asking him to take “appropriate action” - after a local RTI activist, RK Garg, sent him a representation following HT’s latest report of April 26.
Under HC direction
The HC had in April 2013 directed the administration “to examine the feasibility of establishing a mechanism and take decision within a period of six months”. It had further stated that till that was done a committee under chairmanship of justice RS Mongia (retired) was constituted to check whether the hike in fees by schools was proper or not, following the Delhi high court’s path. In its compliance report in April 2014, the UT had stated that it would follow the Punjab government on the matter. Director, school education (DSE), Rubinderjit Singh Brar had earlier told HT, “Since Punjab has not come up with a mechanism, we will not wait any longer; and will come up with our own.”
On Wednesday, Sarvjit referred to the public outcry on the issue recently, and said that feedback from public and other stakeholders was welcome before the policy was finalised.
The proposal mentions that “geographical monopoly is inherent in the plan of things and understandably under ethos behind the directions of the HC”, and adds that the policy was intended to, as per the court’s directions, “put in place a mechanism to keep check on monopolistic tendencies of schools, that are natural to germinate if any eye is not kept on it”.
Therefore, the need to have a common formula to work out fee to be charged per student by a school (using duly audited figures) is highlighted in the draft proposal. Sarvjit added, “As expenditure for junior and senior classes may vary, broadly we are looking at bifurcating the exercise in two categories, one up to Class 5 and another Class 6 onwards.”
“We will also study this and see if there is any legality under which the education department is doing this and if there is, then so be it,” said HS Mamik, president, Independent Schools Association, Chandigarh.
“Initiating a regulatory mechanism is a welcome step, we are happy about it. We expect the department to issue a statement inviting parents to give feedback fearlessly, provide harsh punishment to students and ensure transparency,” said Nitin Goel, president, Chandigarh Parents’ Association.