Increase parent strength in school PTAs across Maharashtra, says panel
Says the PTA executive committees, whose approval is a must for any fee hike, should include two parents per classmumbai Updated: Dec 07, 2017 15:08 IST
To allow parents to voice their opinions more strongly on school fees, the nine-member expert committee appointed by the state has recommended doubling the representation of parents in schools’ Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) executive committees. The expert panel was formed in May 2017.
The committee, formed after numerous complaints of alleged exorbitant fee hikes in schools from parents did rounds, was tasked with suggesting changes in Maharashtra Educational Institutes (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011. On Wednesday, the committee submitted its recommendations to the state.
“After admissions, many parents met me and other government officials, and said the fee regulation act was toothless. The state will now go through the report submitted by the expert committee and will speak to all the stakeholders by January. Once we decide which recommendations can be accepted, an ordinance will be issued to alter the Act by March,” said Vinod Tawde, state education minister.
The committee recommended that the PTA executive committee, whose approval is a must for any fee hike in a school, should include two parents per standard in place of one. The move will make parents the majority block in the executive committee, which currently has equal representation from teachers and parents.
The experts also recommended empowering the parents to approach authorities in case of unjustified fee hikes. They suggested that the parents should be allowed to file an appeal against a fee hike at a Divisional Fee Regulatory Committee (DFRC) if the PTA executive committee, through a simple majority, decides to do so.
"While we have proposed that the majority [or more than 50%] of the executive committee must agree on an appeal, the state may decide to lower this proportion," said VG Palshikar, a former Bombay High Court judge, who headed the committee.
The report also recommends allowing DFRCs to take action against any school on its own, even if there's no complaint from parents.
The panel also sought to remove a clause in the fee regulation act that binds the schools to accept the fees decided by the PTA executive committee if the difference between the PTA fees and the one proposed by the school does not exceed 15%.
“It was an anomaly as it sometimes allowed the executive committee to block any substantial fee hike,” said Mohan Awte, a member of the committee and the additional chief executive officer of Shri Vile Parle Kelvani Mandal (SVKM) group of institutions.
According to a proposed new clause, the management can directly appeal to DFRC if doesn't want to accept the executive committee's fee structure, regardless of the difference in the fees proposed by management and executive committee.
"It's our job to ensure that students and parents are not harassed. At the same time, the management should also not be unnecessarily disturbed," said Tawde.
Arundhati Chavan, president, PTA United Forum, welcomed the proposed changes.
“While the management may now have an upper hand in deciding the fees, the parents can overrule them in the executive committee, provided they are united,” she said.