April 20, 2011

Government won’t rush water bill but okays school fee one

Mumbai: The cabinet on Monday gave its nod for the Maharashtra Educational Institution (Regulation of Collection of Fee) bill to be introduced in the ongoing budget session for discussions and passage.The education minister Rajendra Darda mooted the bill which if passed in both the Houses of the state legislature, would allow the government to determine the upper limit of the fees charges for school educations across the state and central boards in both aided and private institutions.

The act was essential following uproar among parents complaining against ad hoc fee hikes in private institutions. Pressures from various non-government organisations and education forums saw the government placing the draft proposal for public debate seeking suggestions on fee regulations. Sources indicated that the government will have to set in place a monitoring body to determine what constitutes the upper limit in the fee structures.

In another significant development the cabinet decided not to rush the controversial water bill following strong protests within the Congress. The cabinet after debating the issue took the view that the bill which has been hurriedly cleared in the state assembly needs to be further discussed. The bill which allows irrigation water to be diverted for industries will be referred to the joint select committee.

Highly placed sources in the government revealed to DNA, “The irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare had pressed for the passage of the bill in state council where it was listed for discussion on Monday. However, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asserted that it would be unfair to push the bill without consensus within the Democratic Front government.” The Congress also elicited support from the opposition to stall the water bill.

The development in Jaitapur that led to violence and police lathi charge saw the cabinet ministers locked in heated arguments.The industries minister Narayan Rane, according to sources is highly perturbed with the development as it would give mileage to the Shiv Sena which is leading the anti-nuclear power project agitation in Jaitapur.


April 16, 2011

New Act to regulate private school fees - The Times of India

HYDERABAD: The state government has decided to come out with a new Act that would prevent private schools from increasing their fees every academic year. K Parthasarathi, minister for secondary education , announced on Thursday that following the example of Tamil Nadu, the state government was thinking of enacting an Act that would regulate the fees in private institutions in the state.

The Act will also lay out rules that will have to be followed by the secondary education department while granting recognition to private schools. The state's initiative for the new Act is part of the mandate of the Right to Education (RTE) Act that stipulates new legislation to control private schools. Also, a high court order issued in 2010 had directed the department to come up with fresh rules of fee regulation.

The government had a year ago issued an order (GO Ms No: 91) regulating the fee structure. However, private schools secured the high court stay on the GO. The court, however, in August last year directed the school education department to form new rules from 2011-12 academic year.

Toeing the example of Tamil Nadu, AP wants to enact a new Act to regulate fees in private schools The new Act will lay down rules for recognition of schools too AP's initiative is part of the mandate of the Right to Education Act Last year, AP tried to regulate the fees, but school managements secured a stay from the HC The court asked the state to form new rules from the 2011-12 academic year Child rights NGOs want the new rules to be enforced across the board, including corporate and international schools

Parents welcome govt's move to check fee hike
Hyderabad: The government's move to come out with a new Act to prevent private schools from increasing fees every academic year, has brought new hope to parents wary of the annual hike.

"The court had directed the school education department to come out with new rules as the old GO was issued in a hurry and had several flaws. If the government is planning to come out with new regulations before the commencement of the next academic year, many parents will be relieved," said Kamal Malliramani, member, Hyderabad School Parents Association (HSPA). According to HSPA records, several city schools have already hiked their fee structure by 10 per cent to 50 per cent for the coming academic year. "If a new legislation is put in place, there will be some amount of fear among private schools and unjustified fee-hike might stop," said Malliramani.

HSPA said the state government should force the schools to make their fee structure a public document like in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, private school managements said that they would welcome the move only if fee regulation is introduced across the board. "No schools including international and corporate schools should be exempted from regulation," said Srinivas Reddy, convener, Recognised Schools' Managements' Association.

Some child rights NGOs, however, said the government should also introduce provisions regulating the salaries of teachers in the new Act. "The Act should be aimed at regulating private schools and not just focus on fee structure," said Achuyta Rao, president, child rights NGO, Bala Sangham .

New Act to regulate private school fees - The Times of India

April 13, 2011

By  Parents and Teachers
Against Corruption and Exploitation in Education
From 13 April, 11.00 am onwards, at Azaad Maidan, Mumbai.

Inspite of laws, court orders, using false assurances, the Govt. has colluded with the unaided schools lobby and allowed unscrupulous exploitation of parents & teachers. While fees are hiked in the name of teachers salaries, whereas they are not being paid their legitimate dues. Hence, we the parents and teachers have come together to expose and resist the exploitation.

Parents have been continuously complaining, including through our organization Forum for Fairness in Education an NGO, over the last decade and have sought and often got support of the judiciary.  Yet the private unaided school management lobby, which manages the Govt. (e. g. the appointment of Kumud Bansal as Chairperson of the Committee) has thrown out of the window the law of land, namely Prohibition of Capitation Fee Act-1987 and also all other related Acts, Rules including Secondary School Code.
Over the last three years, like several other scams, the shamelessness has spiked to unbearable levels. The Govt. has kept appearances by issuing GRs only to be rightly thrown away by Courts as, they have no legislative backing. It is obvious from the behaviour of the Govt. that school managements have hiked fees more than 150% in the last three years. The justifications for the increase in tuition fees have been to pay salaries & arrears as per the VI Pay Commission to teachers. But most of the teachers have not been paid the salaries as per the norms, inspite of up to 150% increase in the school fees, which should much more than cover the salaries.  Therefore, we demand:

1.     Limit (ceiling) on fee hike and permit fee hike only once in 3 years.

2.     Refund of fees, if there is any element of profiteering.

3.     Enforce Prohibition of Capitation Fee Act-1987, with well defined legitimate fees. covering VI Pay salaries.

4.     Review Fee structure from 2008 onwards, of all private schools charging more than Rs. 6000/- per year and refund of all capitation fees collected till date. 

5.     Immediate implementation of VI Pay Commission & arrears with transparent pay-fixation.

6.     Protect teachers against victimization, harassment, hire & fire policy as, teachers respectability is the key to students’ character building.

7.     Transparency in Service condition including issuing of copy of the service book and monthly detailed salary to the teachers. Payment of PF and Gratuity as per the Govt. norms.

8.     Penalize extortions, in the name of admission fee (up to 2 lakhs), Security Deposit (up to 2.5 lakhs), Imprest Money (up to 1 lakh), Activity fee (up to 30000 per activity). School Essentials (up to Rs. 50000), Building Fund (up to Rs. 50000), Admission Forms (up to Rs. 8000) etc. Also Stop compulsory purchase of uniforms, books, stationery, school essentials, and worksheets leading to exploitation.

9.     Enforce truly democratically elected PTA representatives in place of sham PTAs and to maintain transparency in the functioning of PTA.

10.Stop interviews for Pre-Primary or Primary admissions, as per RTE Act. Also enforce RTE Act, including 25% reservation for the weaker & disadvantaged group of children.

11.Cover unaided schools under RTI and enforce web-publishing of accounts and facilities including affiliation details of all private schools.

12.Collection of all fees should be in the name of school only and official receipt/s must be issued for all payments.


Contact: Jayant Jain – 9323131300; Raju Tirmalle – 9821256607; Sheila D’mello – 9820979079; Sunita Srivastava – 9821534545; Rajiv Patel – 9833733365; Sandeep Chavan - 9422081894

April 8, 2011

Citizen manifesto asks for fee-less schools in return for votes

CHENNAI: Activists demanded that free and quality education and healthcare be made the right of every citizen on Thursday. Releasing the citizen manifesto, members of the State Platform for Common School Syllabus (SPCSS) declared that people would vote for the party that includes these demands in their election manifesto and has the political will to implement it. 

The manifesto demanded free, compulsory and quality education for all from kindergarten to postgraduation. The SPCSS called for feeless' schools as recommended by the Kothari Commission, but till that goal is achieved it demanded that the party that wins the election prohibit the commercialisation of education. The manifesto suggested that fees of all students studying in the schools of an educational district be collected through a bank and then transferred to the accounts of the respective school. Teacher salaries should also be transferred in this manner. "This will reduce the interaction of the parents with the schools and prevent conflicts," the manifesto said. 

When the government made public the fee structures of individual schools as determined by the fee committee, parents told schools saying that they would only pay this fees and not the amounts asked by school managements. But now with the academic year coming to a close, some schools are coercing parents into paying the fee demanded by them by threatening that they will not allow their children to write the annual exam. "Parents will vote for the political party that assures them that it would implement the recommendations of the fee committee," said S Arumainathan, president, Tamil Nadu Federation of Students-Parents Welfare Associations. 

"It is our Constitutional right to not just have an animal survival, but to live life with dignity. To live a life of dignity and to improve their lifestyle people should be able to spend on things like visiting historical places with the family, acquiring knowledge by purchasing books and having a library. But today a person with earning capacity is gauged by the amount of money he is able to spend on quality education and healthcare, both of which should be provided free of cost by the government," said general secretary of the SPCSS Prince Gajendra Babu.