Stakeholders say it doesn’t serve the purpose of controlling fees.
Mumbai: The ordinance on school fee regulation that the state government plans to roll out is being seen as a toothless tiger by stakeholders due to various factors, including the lack of an implementing authority and a redressal mechanism. The ordinance seeks to empower parents to approach courts in cases of fee hike disputes.
The stakeholders claimed that the ordinance also fails to address the privileges and immunity that minority institutions claim to enjoy in the light of Article 30 of the Constitution and it is yet to be seen if they will get regulated on this key issue.
There are more than 4,000 schools in the city that have minority status. Majority of the private schools are minority schools. Activists alleged that the schools obtain minority status so that they can bypass various laws including fee regulation and capitation fee acts.
According to education minister Vinod Tawde, the ordinance to the Fee Regulation Act will allow parents to go to the court directly against the fee hike and schools will have to declare their fees for standard first to fifth and from standard sixth to tenth at the beginning of the academic year thus restricting them from increasing the fee later in the year. Mr Tawde said that the schools would have to justify the fee hike and if the parents were not satisfied they could go to court individually.
Dr Vivek Korde, Forum Against Commer-cialisation of Education said, “This act has not served any purpose of controlling fees. The act has not defined what is affordable fee. As per the Right to Education Act, the children from age 6 to 14 are entitled to get free education. But the government is not implementing the act in private schools.”
Advocates taking up cases on behalf of Parents Regulatory Fee Committee welcomed the ordinance, saying that it is good opportunity for parents who do not agree with the decision of the committee to allow a fee hike, however, the going to court option will only make it more agonising for the parents as they will be targeted by the school and their children may suffer discrimination or even get expelled.
Another major flaw in the act and the ordinance being pointed out by activists is that the act does not cover minority institutions as they claim that Article 30 of the Constitution allows them to establish and administer themselves and hence they cannot be brought under the purview of the Fee Regulation Act.
“The act or ordinance does cover minority institutions though it has not been explicitly mentioned. In light of various Supreme Court and gigh court orders it is seen that while the right of the institutions is upheld the orders also restrain them from resorting to exploitation. Hence, parents will be able to go to court against these institutions too,” said J M Abhyankar, president of Shikshak Sena, the teachers wing of Shiv Sena.
Fee Hike Ordinance