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Maharashtra panel seeks public opinion on changes in school fee act

Mumbai city news: The panel was formed on May 7 after the state school education department received several complaints from parents over fee hikes.

mumbai Updated: Jun 01, 2017 01:28 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Mumbai city news,fee hikes
Parents have been complaining about exorbitant fee hikes.(HT)

The state panel to suggest changes to the Maharashtra Educational Institutions Regulation Collection of Fee Act, 2011, has come out with its report which is available on the government portal for public opinion till June 3.

The panel consisting of government, parent and school representatives, was formed on May 7, after the state school education department received several complaints from parents that the existing act was failing to check exorbitant fee hikes.

It has made over 50 suggestions to strengthen the fee regulation act, and will submit its final report in 15 days. Based on the report the government will promulgate an ordinance to expedite changes to the Act.

“These recommendations will be open for feedback up to June 3. After this, the committee will meet once again and prepare a final report to the government,” said Nand Kumar, principal secretary of the department.

He added that most committee members agreed on using the ‘two-third formula’ to check fee hikes. “After a fee hike, schools can give parent’s 60 days to pay fees. If by then 2/3 of the parents pay, it would be assumed that the fee hike is acceptable and the rest of the parents would have to pay the fees in the next 30 days,” he said.

On the other hand, if 2/3 of the parents don’t pay then the hike will be cancelled and school authorities will not be able to propose another hike in the same academic year.

However education activists pointed out that it such a rule is implemented, schools might pressurise parents to pay fee even if they are opposed to it. “This will just give an opportunity for management to scare parents into paying fees, it will encourage use tactics such as victimisation of children and bullying,” said Jayant Jain president of the Forum for Fairness In Education, a parents teachers group.

Other suggestions include allowing even a single parent to move the DFRC if they are opposed to fee hikes, giving power to the divisional fee regulation committee to stay a hike until a dispute is resolved, more parents representations in the Parent Teacher Association’s executive committee and presence of an education official at the meeting where is fee hike resolution is to be passed. The draft also suggests that fees be hiked once in three years instead of two.

Some of the suggestions made in the committee’s draft report

If the difference between the proposed fee hike by the school management and that approved by parents is more than 5%, the management must justify it. If it is found to be unsatisfactory, the matter must be referred to the divisional fee regulation committee

*A ceiling must be set on admission fees and it must be charged only once

* The school’s audited balance sheets must be available on the website

* A parent from each division at the school must be part of the PTA executive body

* The state should ensure that aided schools do not charge any fees

* The DFRC must have two representatives from parents or NGOs

How can you give feedback?

You can write to the government at up to June 3

First Published: May 28, 2017 01:04 IST