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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Delhi govt revokes nod to pvt school to hike fee

It was found that certain facts were ignored while granting the permission. The school increased its fees by almost 75 per cent, which is unacceptable. Therefore, we are revoking the order, said Sisodia

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: September 11, 2020 1:15:55 am
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After granting sanction to Sanskriti School to raise its fees in three separate orders over seven months, the Delhi government Thursday announced that it will now revoke this permission due to irregularities in the school’s claims and the orders. In a press conference Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia stated that the school — one of the most prominent in Delhi — increased its fees by 83% in the last few months. Permissions for the fee increase had been granted by the Delhi government’s education department through three orders sanctioned in September 2019, December 2019 and March 2020.

“I have observed that permissions for such a steep fee hike have been granted without approvals of Minister-in-charge, especially when no such permissions have been granted to other schools on account of available surpluses,” Sisodia wrote in a letter to the Director of Education. He also said in his letter that the decision was taken after examining complaints by a group of parents from the school, who alleged the “DoE has allowed fee increase in arbitrary and illegal manner”.

The school’s principal Richa Agnihotri did respond to calls or messages by The Indian Express.

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In an order issued in April and reiterated this month, the education department directed that no private school can charge fees under any head other than ‘tuition’ until they physically open and that no increased tuition fee can be charged.

The school follows a dual fee structure, wherein children of civil servants are charged lower fees than other students. As per the school’s website, its fee structure for 2017-2018 for class XII students was Rs 1,39,163 for general students per year and Rs 88,653 for the government category.

The fee increase permissions granted, which the government is now revoking, is 20% hike for 2018-2019, 20% for 2019-2020 and 35% for 2020-2021. According to Sisodia, the three DoE orders had been passed without taking into consideration the prior rejection of a fee increase request by the school for 2017-2018, as well as various judicial pronouncements, circulars and recommendations of expert panels.

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Among the discrepancies in the permissions that Sisodia has flagged is that the school had not maintained its account as per GAAP (generally accepted accounting practices). He also stated that when the school’s fee hike request for 2017-2018 had been rejected, the requirement of funds to pay employees as per the 7th Pay Commission had been dismissed “on the ground of huge surplus found with the school”. He stated that this was not taken into consideration when the school was allowed an increase for the same reason in 2018-2019.
He also wrote that, “the sanction for 35% fee hike for the session 2020-2021 is based on the presumption for increase in salary due to dearness allowances and other expenditures in financial year 2020-2021” but the parameters had changed completely due to the pandemic and the government order in April that no school will charge any fee hike in this academic year.

Listing several other “discrepancies”, he wrote, “The aforesaid discrepancies are not only serious in nature and unacceptable but also required to be corrected forthwith to maintain public confidence in government department and to ensure equal treatment to all schools… without… any kind of discrimination, partiality or favouritism.”

Sisodia said, “I’ve heard from parents that school applies pressure from very big people, from the Centre, to increase fees. No matter how much pressure they apply, Delhi government and CM Kejriwal stand with parents and will not give any school permission to increase fees wrongfully.”

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