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Amend Act to keep fee hikes by private schools in check: Parents, experts to Maharashtra government

By Ankita Bhatkhande, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 08, 2020 01:31 AM IST

As several private schools in the city have hiked their fees, parents and experts urged the state to make amendments to the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011, to allow the government to regulate the fees of private schools.

An official from the education department said that the state is reviewing the fee-related laws.

As parents reel under financial stress owing to the lockdown, they said they were unable to pay huge amounts at the moment. Many schools are removing students from their online learning groups or threatening parents to remove them from the school altogether, if the fees are not paid.

Vaishali Bafna from SYSCOM, a Pune-based think tank, said the government needs to amend the fee regulation Act to include a provision, in which fees of private schools can be capped during a crisis.

“The current provisions of the Act allow private schools to set their own fee structure. Schools are using this system to their own advantage even in difficult times such as these to put pressure on parents to pay huge sums. The government needs to intervene and bring amendments in the Act urgently,” she added.

A government resolution released on May 8 stated that schools should stay all fee hikes for the current academic year and allow parents to pay fees in instalments. The GR was, however, stayed by the Bombay high court on June 26, in response to a petition by several organisations of private school owners. The petitioners argued that the government cannot regulate fees of private schools as per the current rules.

Parents said that in the absence of strict norms, they have nowhere to go.

“We are all stuck now because even if we complain to the education department, schools will still get away, as the court put a stay on the GR. On the other hand, schools are discriminating against students whose parents are unable to pay the fees, by removing them from online learning groups. The government needs to intervene,” said a Goregaon-based parent.

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