Nearly one-and-a-half years coming into effect, the fee regulation Act is set to get some teeth finally with the state government’s school education department forming a five-member fee revision committee to be headed by retired Bombay High Court Justice Dr S Radhakrishnan.
A government resolution issued on July 10 and signed by Avinash Sable, deputy secretary, school education department, notified the formation of the panel which will be the final decision-making body on regulating fee structure, besides resolving disputes between parents and school authorities.
The other members of the panel, formed under the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act, 2011, will a chartered accountant, state’s director of primary education, besides director and joint director of secondary and higher secondary education, Maharashtra.
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Though the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act was approved in April 2014, it remained toothless due to absence of this committee. The Act stipulates formation of state and district-level committees, which parents can approach if they have any complaints related to fee structure or fee hikes in schools. However, the entire process of forming the state-level committee (which would in turn appoint divisional committees) had been stalled due to the non-availability of a retired HC judge to head it.
Three weeks ago, when state’s Education Minister Vinod Tawde was at State Council of Education, Research and Training in Pune to inaugurate an unique identity number system for school students, he was quizzed by media about the delay in forming the committee. “We are awaiting the reply of the High Court as we have requested for names of retired judges,” he had replied.
Besides forming the fee revision committee, the GR has also notified formation of a four-member selection committee headed by retired justice Dr S Radhakrishnan, which will appoint members of the divisional committees in each education division.
Though partly relieved by the formation of the committee, education activists say the job is only half done. “The revision committee comes into the picture only if the parties are not satisfied with the divisional committee, which is to be headed by a retired district-level judge and will have local education officials as members. It will make sense only when these committees are formed,” said Sandeep Chavan, Pune representative of the Forum for Fairness in Education.
Dilip Singh Vishwakarma of MahaParents Association echoed similar concern, saying it shouldn’t drag indefinitely to form divisional committees. “The current academic year is already underway. The Act should have been in implementation right from this year. It took one-and-a-half years to form the state committee. Now it remains to be seen how long it would take for divisional committees to be formed,” he said.
How it works?
While fees in government-aided institutions will be regulated by government, private educational institutions shall form an executive committee with principal and PTA members to decide the fee structure. The school management will submit a proposal eight months in advance proposing the fee structure. If the difference between the management and the panel’s suggestion exceeds 15%, the matter will be referred to a divisional fee regulatory committee headed by a retired district judge.
If the parties are not satisfied with the decision of the divisional committee, they can approach the revision committee at the state level headed by a retired judge of the high court.