Updated: June 9, 2021 1:05:11 pm
AFTER RECEIVING several complaints from parents about schools hiking fee even during the pandemic, state school education minister Varsha Gaikwad announced that district fee regulation committees will be formed to address such issues, late on Monday.
Taking to Twitter, she said, “Parents aggrieved by unjust school fee hike, look no further. Divisional Fee Regulatory Committees (DFRC) are active now in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik & Aurangabad. While most educational institutions have been doing a stellar job during the pandemic, we’ve still been receiving representations/complaints from parents regarding overcharging by a few. DFRCs for the remaining divisions will soon be formed. Based on the selection panel’s recommendations, we’ve also strengthened the state level revision committee. Our policy discourages commercialisation and profiteering in the education sector. Strict action will be taken against schools indulging in malpractices.” (sic)
The committee for Pune district has retired district judge Vivek Hood as chairperson, and four members, including Gangadhar Mhamane, retired director of education; T N Supe, divisional chairperson of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education; chartered accountant Abhijeet Mahale; and regional deputy director of education, Pune.
The Maharashtra Fee Regulation Act, 2011, has provisions for the formation of a divisional fee regulatory committee to resolve fee-related complaints between school management and parent-teacher association (PTA). According to the Act, schools can only increase annual fee by maximum of 15 per cent every two years. The decision to hike fee has to be approved by the PTA, which is formed at the school level.
Education activists, however, have already raised objections. “There is a basic flaw in the rules that makes the entire process difficult for parents. First, if any parent has to complain to the DFRC, it has to be done within a month of fee hike, but many schools hiked their fee last year. In many schools, PTAs are not in place due to the pandemic. However, according to the Act, PTA approval is needed for fee hike and it is the PTA that can make complaint against fee hike. If not, 25 per cent parents can come together and make a complaint. But this goes against the principle of justice. Even if a single parent has a complaint, why should they not get a hearing? All these issues need to be ironed out, just forming DFRC isn’t enough,” said Mukund Kirdat, activist and chief of the city unit of the AAP.
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