THE DRAFT policy of the UT Education Department for regulation of fees at private unaided schools in the city has received a nod from UT Administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki. Now the Education Department is expected to seek suggestions from various stakeholders before the policy is formally notified.
The draft policy says, “As expenditure involved for junior and senior classes may vary significantly, the exercise may be bifurcated for each school in two broad categories, one up to class V and the other for class VI onwards. This, while respecting freedom of schools to set its quality standard, will only ensure that reasonable fee is charged in return for the level of service being rendered.”
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The draft also states that schools will not be allowed to receive any profit from students/parents by way of admission fees, re-admission fees or through sale of books, stationery items and uniforms. Further, for the sake of uniformity, transparency and easy comprehension, the audited expenditure of each private unaided school will be subject to verification by the government-appointed auditors/chartered accountants.
Officials from the Education Department have stated that a dialogue will be held with private school heads and parents before the final draft of the policy is notified. The policy for fee regulation is likely to be in place before the commencement of the next academic session at city schools. Initiating action for the formulation of this policy, the five-member committee set up by the Education Department for fee regulation at private unaided schools will now compile the 150-odd complaints received from parents, and a report will be submitted to the Director School Education by May 30.
Heads of private unaided schools in the city have, however, raised their voice against the ‘interference’ of the Education Department in the functioning of private schools. Citing the judgment of an 11-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, city schools have argued that the autonomy to determine fees and other norms at private unaided schools resides with the school management only.
The Supreme Court judgment states, “In the case of unaided private schools, maximum autonomy has to be with the management with regard to administration, including the right of appointment, disciplinary powers, admission of students and the fees to be charged.”
In 2013, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the UT Administration to take a decision on devising a permanent mechanism to monitor the fee hike at city private schools. A panel constituted under Justice R S Mongia had then observed that private schools were found hiking their school fees from time to time, without any regulations in place. It was also highlighted that the private schools were found to be charging readmission fees from students each year, which is found to be against public policy.
“We do understand that private schools should have enough funds to be able to provide a certain level of quality education. However, these standards have to be reasonable. Schools need to be made accountable for the fees that they charge, and a level of transparency also needs to be introduced,” an official from the Education Department told Chandigarh Newsline.