Delhi government’s draft of the proposed Delhi School Education Acts and Rules (DSEAR) 1973, touted as a legislation to end the donation culture in schools, seems to have found no takers, with schools, parents and activists all opposing it.
The draft amendment bill covering fee hikes in private unaided schools proposes to set up a committee that will hear complaints related to fee hike. The government has said it plans to amend three sections – section 17, 24 and 27 of the act – to bring in “fee rationalisation” within the “ambit of the common man”.
Through amendments to section 17, a committee formed by the government can act on complaints against fee hike by a particular school. Under the section, the director will also have the powers to regulate fees charged by private schools and issue binding guidelines.
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Section 24 of the act gives the government the power to impose various fines and punishments on schools found guilty of engaging in illegal activities.
Insertion of Section 27(a) will make schools liable for a imprisonment of three to seven years, along with fine of Rs 1 to 5 lakh for contravention of the act.
By adding rule 145 to the Delhi school education rules, the director will regulate admissions to classes, including entry-level classes, in private schools.
While school bodies are opposing the draft on account of the proposed legislation “destroying autonomy of private schools”, parents and activists have expressed reservation over the efficacy of the bill in curbing the rampant donation culture.
“Private schools have been enjoying autonomy for some time. Last year’s fiasco with nursery admissions has clearly hurt the government’s ego. The result is this draft bill, but it will not only destroy the autonomy of private schools but also ensure that they become as bad as the city’s government schools,” said S K Bhattacharya, president of the Action Committee for Unaided Private Schools, an umbrella organisation of the city’s private schools.
The body has also questioned the validity of the government regulating fees. “We feel all that this bill will do is ensure schools are not able to do anything new or innovative since they will have to stick to the government’s vision of what is appropriate spending,” Bhattacharya said.
The last date for submitting suggestions has been extended to June 22, 2015. Schools are now in the process of crafting their objections.
Delhi State Public Schools Management Association called the draft a “draconian proposal” and questioned the wisdom of the government to regulate private schools when it “can’t manage its own”.
“The bad condition of government schools is due to the bad policies of the government. Instead of controlling private schools, why isn’t the government working on improving its own schools first?” asked R C Jain, president of the association.
Parents and activists also rejected the bill, calling it an eyewash. “It was expected that the government will come out with a strong legislation that will put an end to the donation culture prevalent in schools once and for all. Instead, the bill seems to be an eyewash with major loopholes that will be exploited by private schools to their advantage,” said Khagesh Jha, advocate at Social Jurist.