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Sunday, August 01, 2021

Delhi govt to take over school over ‘extra fee’, it denies charge

The government said it decided to initiate the process of taking over the management of Swami Sivananda Memorial Secondary School under provisions of the Delhi School Education Act.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
Updated: June 27, 2021 9:22:19 am
As per a government statement, the decision was taken “after receiving several complaints from parents that school authorities are arbitrarily charging extra fees...”. (Representational Photo)

The Delhi government decided to take over the management of a government-aided school in Punjabi Bagh for “being arbitrary and violating rules”, it announced Saturday. The school, on its part, said this hasn’t been communicated to them, and the government has construed voluntary donations by some parents as fees.

The government said it decided to initiate the process of taking over the management of Swami Sivananda Memorial Secondary School under provisions of the Delhi School Education Act. As per a government statement, the decision was taken “after receiving several complaints from parents that school authorities are arbitrarily charging extra fees…”.

“In addition, the school has been failing its students and asking them to retake the same grade intentionally. Taking into account the complaints of parents, Delhi government constituted an inquiry committee for this matter. The committee found inadequacies in the functioning of the school and found the issues raised by parents about the school are true. Upon presenting the report, the school management was given a chance to defend itself but they were not able to give any reasonable answers about the anomalies in its functioning,” read the statement.

The school is government-aided, meaning it is a privately managed school which receives a maintenance grant of 95% of recurring expenses from Delhi government with a provision for non-recurring grants for contingency.

The institute’s general secretary, Ashok Rao, said the school doesn’t charge fees from students, and the issue appears to be over ‘voluntary payment’ from parents.

“The main thing that they are taking on us is something that parents were doing voluntarily after a resolution passed by the parents’ association. Parents had decided to make a small monthly contribution of around Rs 300 in the form of donation, through which we were setting up a computer lab with 20 computer systems, which is something they wanted. All parents were not even paying, around 60% were and all got receipts. After the pandemic, there was no question of collecting anything from them. I believe a single parent complained and the government set up an inquiry committee. We didn’t hear back about what was to happen to the school. After that, we were told an inquiry was going to be conducted under section 20 of the Delhi School Education Act, which is about takeover. We gave replies to their queries but did not get any communication from them. Till now, we have not received any communication, I have heard it first from journalists,” he said.

The school has around 500 students and is run by non-profit society Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute, which has as its trust board members four ex-secretaries with the Government of India. On allegations that the school has been “failing its students”, Rao stated, “Allegations must be substantiated.”

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