The wait for parents hoping to see the formation of regional level fee revision committees is likely to take some time now.
While two months ago, the state government announced the formation of a state-level five-member fee revision committee to be headed by retired Bombay High Court Justice Dr S Radhakrishnan, which itself came into being nearly one-and-a-half years after the fee regulation Act coming into effect, the act still has no teeth.
That’s because the state level committee has no right to look into the complaints of fee hikes made by parents directly. It can only review decisions of the regional committees.
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Ironically, it was the job of another state-level appointing committee to form regional committees, but so far, there are no signs of it doing so.
The state-level committee will be the final decision-making body on regulating fee structure, besides resolving disputes between parents and school authorities. It comprises a retired judge, a chartered accountant, state’s director of primary education, besides director and joint director of secondary and higher secondary education, Maharashtra.
Asked about the delay in the process, Nand Kumar, principal secretary, school education and sports who is a part of the state-level committee meant for appointments, said the process had been started but was likely to take a while.
“We have received names of retired district judges who have been proposed to be a part of the regional committees. But we also need two other members, senior education official and another chartered accountant. Earlier, we thought we could make the appointments on our own, but were later advised to advertise for it and select from the names we receive. So we have asked the education commissioner to send out advertisements, which we expect would have come out by now. As soon as we receive the names, Justice Dr S Radhakrishnan, secretary of law and judiciary department and myself will select the names and form the regional committees,” he said.
Asked if this process will take time since schools have already begun and many complaints of fee hikes are being reported, Kumar conceded it might be a few weeks before all regional committees are appointed across the state.
He said that in the interim period, deputy directors of education in each region can hear complaints on fee hikes and pass orders.
“If the schools still don’t comply, parents will have to approach court,” said Nand Kumar.
Meanwhile, in Pune, where Ramchandra Jadhav, deputy director of education, is authorised to conduct hearings on fee hike complaints, many cases of schools failing to comply with the norms have been reported.
In fact on Tuesday, a group of parents from Wakad’s Euro School approached education commissioner Purshottam Bhapkar to complain that despite Jadhav’s order to roll back fee hike, the school was allegedly forcing parents to pay hiked fees.
Jadhav conceded that such complaints from parents had become common.
“When complaints come to us, we call the parents and school management as well as parent-teacher association members. The act says that no fee hike can be done without the consent of PTA and within a period of three years. In this case too, we conducted the hearing and asked school not to go ahead with fee hikes, but parents are still claiming the school is not heeding orders. In such a situation, we have no option but to ask administrative officers of municipal corporations to move proposal to de-recognise schools. But even then, this is a long-drawn process. If parents want relief, we advise them to approach court. As of now, even we are waiting for the announcement of the regional-level committees which will have the sole power to resolve these complaints,” he said.