Following an impasse in the state government’s negotiations with private schools over the aspect of fees in two meetings, the Gujarat government filed an application at the Gujarat High Court (HC) on Monday, seeking directions from the court on the way ahead.
As per the state government’s application filed on behalf of the joint secretary of the education department, Vijaysinh Mandora, no amicable solution was reached despite the department trying their best to negotiate with private schools to reduce fees.
The Gujarat HC in July had heard a few petitions, one of them moved by private schools, challenging a government resolution that had directed private schools to waive off tuition fees for the months when no physical classes were conducted in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic difficulties that followed. The GR was quashed and set aside by the HC. The HC had also directed the education department, in the order dated July 31, to “convene a meeting with the office bearers of the association of unaided private schools” so as to reach an equitable understanding. Once all issues would be resolved amicably, the state government would issue a fresh GR in this regard.
The application moved by the education department before the HC on Monday stated that Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama had convened a physical meeting at Gandhinagar on August 17 with representatives of private school associations. He had proposed a reduction in tuition fees to the extent of 25 percent, for the period schools remain physically closed and to completely waive off other fees. This was not agreed to, with the associations asserting that fee waiver can be decided on a case-to-case basis.
A second virtual meeting was held by Chudasama on August 20, but the parties failed to reach a consensus.
Confirming the state government’s move, Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said, “We have submitted an application in the Gujarat High Court seeking the court’s intervention. As per the court’s direction to sit with the private schools, we had held two meetings with the private school management representatives. First was held on August 17. Failing to arrive at a solution, the second one was virtually held on 20. That, too, could not result in any solution.”
The state government had also separately met the parents and said that they had attached their representations with their HC application. Advocate Vishal Dave, who is representing the Gujarat Parents’ Association, said that they shall be “taking appropriate steps to join as a party,” to the government’s latest application.
On the other hand, private schools said that the demand raised by the state government is not acceptable to them.
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