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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Maharashtra: School authorities, education activists criticise state’s GR on 15 per cent fee cut

As per the GR, issued by the state school education department, if the fees are fully paid, it should be either refunded by schools or the excess amount adjusted for the next academic year.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune |
Updated: August 14, 2021 2:53:47 am
The state had reopened middle, high and senior secondary schools from July. (File Photo)

Within a fortnight of its announcement, the Maharashtra government on Thursday issued a government notification, directing school managements across all boards and mediums to waive off 15 per cent of fees for 2021-22 academic year.

As per the GR, issued by the state school education department, if the fees are fully paid, it should be either refunded by schools or the excess amount adjusted for the next academic year. Parents can file complaints with the divisional fee regulatory authority if schools do not comply with the order.

While parents’ bodies that have been demanding reduction of school fees have welcomed the decision, school managements and education activists are unhappy about the move.

“We are just three months into the current school year, but it seems that the state government has decided that students would not attend school for the rest of the year and all facilities will remain unused till then. Definitely, schools have saved some money by remaining shut owing to the pandemic, but the government failed to understand that some schools have already exhausted their savings by not increasing the fees and managing within the same budgets for third year in a row. The state believes that private schools are profiteering institutes and therefore, has expressed such a view in their resolution. They are least interested in the way the private schools have improved their online education pattern,” said Anveet Sudheer Pathak, director, Millennium School.

Nandkumar Kakirde, secretary, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, said the order gives out a “negative image”. “We have incurred heavy losses in 2020-21 due to non-payment or part payment of fees by almost 40 per cent of parents. Our annual fees are between Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000, and we don’t ask for any other payments from parents. Our schools are facing a financial crisis. We have been paying full salaries to teachers throughout the pandemic and our online classes are going on in full swing. We have incurred heavy expenditure on infrastructure like computers in every classroom, separate fibre optic cables on each floor of the schools, headphones and cameras. A 15 per cent fee cut would be a big blow to the finances of all the four schools under our group.”

Some education consultants blamed the Maharashtra GR of being out of context of the Supreme Court judgment in Indian Schools Jodhpur v/s State of Rajasthan.

“The judgment is regarding Rajasthan Fee Regulation Act, 2016, and not about the Maharashtra Fee Regulation Act, 2011. Most of the schools, considering the pandemic situation, have already given concessions in fees. Some schools have not increased their fees for the past two to five years. The government has not considered the cost of online education where teachers are spending their own money to create videos or ensure internet facilities,” said Markus Deshmukh, an educational consultant.

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