The Telangana government Tuesday ordered private schools to not hike fee for the academic year 2020-21 and warned them of cancellation of their recognition and No Objection Certificate for affiliation, apart from legal action, in case of non-compliance.
The government order issued by Special Chief Secretary Chitra Ramachandran applies to all private unaided recognized schools in the state, which are affiliated to State Board, CBSE, ICSE, and other international boards. They have been asked, “to charge only tuition fees every month until further orders”.
The order came the State Cabinet’s decision in this regard on April 19 considering the hardships faced by parents due to the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown. Following the order, Commissioner for School Education, Ch Ramana Kumar, issued directions for creation of a call centre for grievances between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on all working days. He also urged disposal of the complaints within 24 hours after duly verifying from field officers.
After such orders were issued by states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu, etc. several people had taken to Twitter tagging municipal administration and IT minister KT Rama Rao with similar requests.
Though the decision has come in the backdrop of a COVID pandemic, the latest order has come as a major relief for members of the Hyderabad School Parents Association(HSPA) whose fight against school fee hike is nearly a decade-long.
Thanking chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, a statement from HSPA said: “While we have no doubts concerning the noble intention of the government and the Chief Minister, we are unable to ignore the previous bitter experience wherein similar orders issued by the government were waylaid by the powerful lobby of schools and our never-ending judicial process.”
They were referring to an order dated January 4, 2018, ordering schools to withhold fee hikes for the academic year 2018-19. According to HSPA members, the government order was challenged by the school management in the Court and a stay order was granted. The High Court finally heard the HSPA’s case after two full years in March 2020 and
ordered the Government to come up with a comprehensive policy on School fee regulation by April 9, 2020, they said.
HSPA vice-president Seema told indianexpress.com that the court has ordered the schools to deposit the amount of hiked fee from the year 2018 in separate bank accounts and prevented any use of the same. “More than half of the schools have already collected the fee. Some schools have communicated with parents that the excess fee collected
will be adjusted in fee for later months. We want the government to clarify on this without leaving it to individual schools to take such decisions,” she said.
As much as the HSPA welcomes the latest order, it says it needs to be backed with the needed legal strength to prevent judicial intervention. The government has to come out soon with a comprehensive policy for school fee regulation – as has been ordered by the High Court of Telangana
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