Updated: July 30, 2021 1:44:52 am
Even as the Maharashtra Cabinet approved a 15 per cent cut in the fees charged by private schools and State School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad tweeted it, saying a circular will be issued within two days on the same, it has led to considerable debate among parents, education activists and school managements.
With some groups welcomed the order, others said it is not legally tenable. School management bodies were also not excited about the move.
“On one hand, our fee collection has gone down considerably due to refusal by a group of parents to pay fees and the government doesn’t allow us to take any action, threatening de-recognition. And then they ask us to reduce our fees by 15 per cent without applying any logical reasoning. I don’t think it is fair or even legally tenable,” said a CBSE school principal.
Sanjayrao Tayade Patil, founder president, Maharashtra English School Teachers Association (MESTA) said, “The decision is not acceptable. We are ready to challenge it in court. A few days ago, we had announced scholarship for Covid-19 orphans and a 25 per cent waiver in fees to students whose parents are financially impacted by the pandemic. If the move is implemented, how will schools manage their operational costs?”
Advocate Markus Deshmukh, a legal consultant for many city schools, said, “The Supreme Court order which was in May 2021 pertained to Rajasthan Fee regulation Act 2016 and the order of 15percent reduction of fees was in the specific case filed by Indian School Jodhpur. After this, a petition was filed by a Pune parent which has only been admitted by the competent court here and they have been advised to approach the competent authority and follow the SC dictum on the Jodhpur case. However the SC order is specifically in connection to the Rajasthan Fee Regulation Act, 2016 while other states have their own fee regulation act. As there is no provision in the Maharashtra Fee Regulation Act, 2011, about reduction in fees, hence I believe that if anyone wants to challenge the governemnt notification on fee reduction, the decision may not survive in court.”
Education activists expressed their displeasure over the issue. Recently, many parents, led by Aam Aadmi Party activists, staged a protest in Pune, demanding reduction in school fees.
Mukund Kirdat, AAP spokesperson, said private schools in Maharashtra can offer much more concession based on the SC decision.
“In the case of private schools against the Rajasthan government, the SC court asked for a reduction of at least 15 per cent to fix a minimum percentage but suggested that the schools that can offer more concessions should give the concessions themselves. We have been demanding an ordinance to be issued in Maharashtra based on this decision. Since the SC decision was for lockdown period, it should be for two years 2020-21 and 2021-22, while the school education minister said the decision will be implemented only this year, which is a mockery of parents’ demands,” he added.
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