In a move that has wider repercussions with regard to exorbitant fee hikes by self-financed schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and other boards, the Gujarat government has done a flip flop from its stand on a similar case in 2006 by declaring that “the state laws do not apply to non-granted schools affiliated to CBSE”.
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The government’s response has come on a set of petitions filed in the Gujarat High Court by a group of more than 200 parents challenging the fee hike by a private school – Firdaus Amrut Centre – which is run by a trust. The state filed the affidavit on December 19 after the High Court warned the government pleader that the “state would lose the right to defend itself”.
The government affidavit states, “The respondent schools (sic) have to abide by the rules and regulation pertaining to the Central Board of Secondary Education and the state laws which are applicable to the schools which are affiliated to the state boards doesn’t (sic) apply to the schools which are affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education therefore, in the present case the state laws does (sic) not apply to the case of the respondents schools (sic).”
Contrary to its current position, the state government had taken a stand in 2006 in the High Court on a similar issue of fee hike that involved a school in Vadodara (New Era Senior Secondary School). The govt had then stated: “Gujarat Secondary Education Act, 1972 and Secondary Education Regulations, 1974 are also applicable to the unaided private secondary schools.” The government had stated that it had the “power to inspect primary and secondary schools and to regulate the fees structure in the interest of the students”.
Besides, there are several notifications issued by the state government and the bylaws of the CBSE which specifically mention that such private schools can’t increase fees on their own without informing the board, District Education Officer (DEO) and the association of parents. The bylaws (Rule 11 of chapter II) of the CBSE also state that “schools should consult parent’s representatives before revising the fees. It should be under the heads prescribed by the Department of Education of State/UT of different categories.”
The state government notifications, issued in 2011 with regard to private schools extracting exorbitant fees, also make it clear that all schools running in the state are governed by state laws, specially for increasing fees. The notification also states that 80% money generated through fees should be spent on the salaries of teachers and the non-teaching staff and the rest of amount should be kept for miscellaneous expenses.
Another notification issued by the education department, dated September 20, 2011, states, “In private non-granted primary schools, to increase fees up to 10%, the school administration, principal, parents association and the DEOs are required to be informed.”
Notices to 18 schools
The Panchmahals District Education authority Wednesday issued notices to the 18 schools in the district after they were found teaching the CBSE syllabus without due permission from the CBSE. Officials carried out a surprise check at private schools in Godhra, Halol and Kaalol talukas and found that 9 schools in Godhra, five schools in Halol and four schools of Kaalol taluka were teaching CBSE syllabus, but they had not obtained due affiliation certification.