Despite the city witnessing many protests against fee hike by parent body unions, only eight persons actually came forward to make suggestions for the state’s Fee Regulation Act.
People were given several weeks to send their suggestions and complaints as a revision of the Act was being planned. However, only 250 suggestions were received and that too from eight persons, most of whom were education activists. Education officials say that most parents stayed indifferent to the process and most members of Parent-Teachers Associations (PTA’s) did not bother to send in their suggestions or complaints based on their experiences.
“Most suggestions are from people working in the field of education who have sent us detailed study reports. We are now scrutinising them and sending the same to the state government for consideration. It is shocking that parents didn’t participate despite the deadline being extended from October 23 to November 5,” said Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of education (primary). The government had come up with the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011, to prevent exorbitant fee hikes but while the act is in force since last year, schools are allegedly seen exploiting the loopholes in the Act, following which a revision committee has been formed to revise the Act.
Some of the suggestions sent include making specific mention of aided and minority institutions, clarity on fees charged under the garb of security deposit, complete information of schools on website, mentioning pre-primary schools and so on.
However, education activists blame the department for not conducting proper publicity campaigns inviting suggestions and say this is the reason parents didn’t respond. A member of the Forum for Fairness in Education, Sandeep Chavan, who is one of the eight people who sent in their recommendations, said, “While the state can issue full page advertisements for their propaganda, issues that concern the lives of lakhs of students across the state are delegated to small obscure announcements.”
Parents protesting fee hikes in the city say it was a deliberate overlook on the government’s part. Dr Rohit Agrawal, a parent, said, “We were aware but not through the government advertisements, but through activists who asked us to take part in the process. Frankly, we have lost faith as we have shared so much correspondence with officials and ministers, and yet they are least bothered. So this is just an exercise on paper,” he said.