Proceeding with caution on its plan to reduce school fees by 15 per cent in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Maharashtra government is studying its options to amend the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act 2011. The matter is likely to be discussed once again at next week’s cabinet meeting when a final decision on it is expected to be taken.
Official sources said the government is likely to reduce the school fees of all private schools across all boards by 15 per cent only for the academic year 2021-2022 citing the unprecedented Covid situation. The move is likely to provide relief to lakhs of students in the state. Parents’ bodies have been demanding some relief in the school fees from the state government citing the Covid-19 situation but the schools have opposed the move.
After last week’s Cabinet meeting, Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had announced that the government had said an ordinance for fee reduction would be issued in the next few days. However, the government has not taken the step yet.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with the school education department to discuss the issue, its legal aspects and implementation mechanism. The meeting was attended by chief secretary Sitaram Kunte, state advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and senior officials from the school education department.
“The government does not want any lacunas in it anticipating that it may be challenged in the court. Implementation will be key and we will have to ensure a proper mechanism for it. There will also be a grievance redressal system,” said an official. The official further said that a proposal is likely to come up in the next cabinet meeting wherein it will be discussed and a final call will be taken.
Last week, Gaikwad had said that the Maharashtra government is taking a decision on the lines of the Supreme Court’s order, given in May, to Rajasthan to charge 15 per cent less annual fee in view of unutilised facilities or activities by the students. “Recently, the SC had also asked the Maharashtra government to consider its May order about Rajasthan schools to decide on reducing 15 per cent school fees in Maharashtra,” Gaikwad had said.