128 Ghaziabad schools shut as standoff over fee hike intensifies
The parents and private schools are on loggerheads over ‘arbitrary’ fee hike in Ghaziabad as well as other areas of the National Capital Region.Updated: May 04, 2017 22:53 IST
In an unprecedented move, the Independent Schools’ Federation of India (ISFI) on Thursday observed a ‘token strike’ and nearly 128 schools were shut as a mark of protest against the formation of the district committee to look into allegations by parents’ associations of ‘arbitrary’ fee hike.
Former district magistrate, Nidhi Kesarwani, had formed a committee headed by additional district magistrate (finance), district inspector of schools (DIOS) and the basic education officer (BEO) after complaints by parents.
ISFI officials said all 128 member schools observed a shutdown on Thursday and the principals, teachers and association members met district administration officials around 11am.
The federation members also refused to hand over their accounts to the district committee for scrutiny.
“We have told officials that we will not be handing over our accounts for scrutiny as our accounts are already submitted in the form of a balance sheet to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and are also in the purview of the income tax authorities. Apart from the accounts, if the committee requires such documents as society registration, provident fund registration and fire fighting NOCs, we are ready to provide them,” said said Subhash Jain, president, ISFI.
“If the district committee still goes ahead and demands accounts for three financial years, we will again hand over a memorandum to them. The option of closing down schools yet again is open to us,” Jain added.
In its memorandum handed over to the district authorities, the ISFI has cited July 2014 directions of the Allahabad high court (Lucknow bench) and said that the district magistrate was not authorised to demand a break-up of the annual charges. However, district officials said that the district committee will carry out an investigation into the complaints forwarded by parents and their associations.
“We are not doing anything inconsistent with the CBSE, state government and the court directions. We have come to know that, the statements of expenditure by schools are to be submitted to CBSE as per its norms and also to the DIOS,” said Rajesh Yadav, additional district magistrate (finance).
“The schools have remained shut and if we receive any complaints by parents over their closure, we will take action,” he added.
Parents and private schools have been at loggerheads over the issue of ‘arbitrary’ fee hike in Ghaziabad as well as other areas of the National Capital Region (NCR). In two meetings held between parents, schools and district officials, 28 schools consented to provide their accounts to the district committee. However, the ISFI has now opposed the move and refused scrutiny of their accounts.
“The closure of schools is a pressure tactic by private schools. During meetings, they had consented to provide accounts, but now they are opposing it. If their accounts are genuine and already audited, why are schools not open to subjecting them to scrutiny? With regard to the closure of schools for a day, we have forwarded a complaint to officials and sought action,” said Sachin Soni, a member of all school parents’ association.
There had been number of protests held outside various private schools in Ghaziabad before the district magistrate took note of the complaints and formed a committee.
“The committee will submit its report to the district magistrate by May 11 and the findings will be sent to state officials for a policy decision. No policy decision can be taken up at the local level,” Ministi S, the newly appointed DM of Ghaziabad, said.