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Parents in Noida want stake in fee regulatory panel

Say private schools can abuse ‘loopholes’ in the Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed Independent Schools (Regulation of Fees) Bill, 2017

noida Updated: Dec 15, 2017 23:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
noida school fee hike,school fee hike,school fee regulation
Various parents’ organisations in Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad have been protesting against the ‘arbitrary‘ fee hike by private schools for many months. (HT File Photo)

Calling the Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed Independent Schools (Regulation of Fees) Bill, 2017, an eyewash, parents in Noida have objected to several provisions stating it does not take care of parents’ interest and that there were loopholes designed to give leeway to schools.

In a press conference held in the city on Friday, the All Noida School Parents Association said top among their objections was non-representation of parents in the parents teachers association (PTA), whose head would be a part of the panel overseeing fee hikes.

“The zonal regulatory committee recommended in the bill doesn’t have a single parent. The committee will include the divisional commissioner, a PWD engineer, a chartered accountant, the PTA president of any school, an official from the finance and revenue department, regional director of education and an eminent principal. We know that the president of any PTA is always the principal of that school. So there is no role of the parents in this committee,” said K Arunachalam, general secretary, All Noida Schools Parents Association.

With zero representation, parents fear the committee, which alone will have jurisdiction “to settle, decide or deal with any matter over fee hikes”, would give schools, including minority educational institutions, a “licence to loot”. If the bill is implemented, no civil court would have jurisdiction to interfere in its decision-making.

For the past year, parents in Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad have been protesting against arbitrary fee hike by private schools demanding the state government introduce a regulatory committee. On December 8, the government met this demand by introducing a proposed fee regulatory bill.

The state government has asked for suggestions from various stakeholders for making amendments till December 22.

The association submitted its recommendations for the proposed bill saying that a number of features, including fixing an upper limit on fee, must be included.

“There is no upper limit on how much the schools can charge annually. We demand the schools must make public the list of teachers and their salary. Parents should have an equal say in the PTA,” Arunachalam said.

Parents are also skeptical that schools will use the fee to open other branches. As per the bill, 15% money received under ‘development fund’ can be used by schools to construct their other projects.

“In the bill, there is a provision for exceptions where the regulatory committee may give relaxation to private schools. We believe it is a planned loophole for schools to abuse. If this bill is implemented, then parents are set to lose their say against private schools. Earlier, private schools used to hike fee in an arbitrary manner, now they will have a licence from the state government to loot openly,” vice-president of All Noida School Parents Association Vikash Bansal said.

Parents have also commented on the language used in the bill saying that it is ‘vague and has loopholes’ that private schools can abuse.

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 23:10 IST