Panic over a possible fee hike in private schools

Pvt schools had hiked fees by Rs 500 a month in Feb 2009


Jasleen Kaur | February 20, 2010

Jaismine Kaur’s six-year-old daughter is studying in prepatory class in a Delhi school. She is paying Rs 1,400 as monthly fee. The school increased the fee last year after approval from the Delhi Government. Kaur is now worried if the school will hike the fee soon again. Her fears stem from human resource development minister Kapil Sibal's statement on Friday that the fees charged by private schools could not be regulated and that each school had the right to fix the salaries of its teachers as well.

Sibal’s statement has not gone down well with education experts either.

Jyoti Bose, principal at Springdales school, Dhaulan Kuan, said, “We are recognized schools and we come under the Delhi School Education Act. What I believe is that if this control is not there then there should be some other control. There has to be some regulation mechanism to keep a check on the fee structure of the schools.”

Ashok Agarwal, a lawyer and an activist, said though it is suggested under the Right to Education Act, this policy should not be implemented. “This provision under RTE Act itself is unconstitutional. If it is allowed, it will be nothing else but exposing schools to commercialisation. The government should think before giving schools the authority to decide their fees.”

After the implementation of the sixth pay commission in 2008, the schools were asked to pay Rs 22,000, the minimum basic salary, to their teachers. The schools in turn sought to hike their fee to generate revenue to pay the teachers more. This led to protests by the parent’s association in Delhi.

Delhi government then formed a committee to decide the quantum of fee that should be allowed to be hiked by the schools. It later approved a slab-wise fee increase in private schools in the city putting the cap at Rs 500 in Feburary last year. 

But the minister's latest suggestion indicates that private schools may get a free hand in deciding teachers' salaries and consequently the fees.

Sudhir Sharma, a member of Delhi Abhibhawak Sangh, the parents' association, says if this policy is implemented it will just benefit the schools. “Last year, they increased the fee saying they have to pay increased salaries to the teachers. But now, when they will not be bound to give salaries to teachers according to the sixth pay commission, will they return the increased fee? Most of the teachers in private schools are not even permanent, so they don’t even get the salaries that they should get,” said Sharma.

Sibal’s statement, though, is a sign of relief for some school managements. R P Malik, chairman of the federation of  public schools, a group of nearly 300 private unaided schools in the city, says, “We have been demanding this for the past several years. There should be no control of the government over private schools. It is a good step. But this provision under the RTE Act which says that we should give 25 percent seats to the underprivileged children should not be forced on us. They should implement this in their government schools. If it will be forced on us, then we will have to increase the fee."



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