MUMBAI: It isn't too late to voice your opinion on Maharashtra's nascent policy on school fee regulation. The state government's controversial draft fee regulation policy will be up for debate a while longer.
The government, which put up the policy on its website and called for the public to give in their suggestions till Tuesday, has now further stretched the deadline to March 4. "Parents, school managements as well as political parties met me on Monday seeking an extension of the deadline,'' said school education minister Rajendra Darda.
When it comes to walking the tight rope between pleasing both parents and school managements while drafting the policy, the state government seems to be rubbing both sides the wrong way. While parents are unhappy with the policy as they say it does little to curb profiteering, minority schools have complained to the government saying it violates their constitutional rights.
Abraham Mathai, vice-chairperson of the state minorities commission, along with two school principals, one from a church-run school and another from a school run by the Anglo-Indian society, met Darda to air their views.
"Minority institutions are guaranteed the right to govern their schools the way they want to. It is their constitutional right,'' says Mathai, adding that minority schools had a problem with the government dictating terms over school fee hikes. "The minister told us that the new policy was meant to curb profiteering by school managements. Just because a few schools are profiteering, the new law should not hamper the functioning of schools that are doing good work,'' said Mathai.
He also points to the clause in the new draft policy which makes it mandatory for school managements to seek the approval of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) before hiking fees. "Earlier, the government had made it mandatory for schools to inform the PTA before hiking the fee. But now, even if a single PTA member opposes the fee hike, schools will not be able to go through with it,'' said Mathai.
He is also opposed to another section of the draft, which says that schools cannot hike their fee for three years. "The government has not taken inflation into account,'' he said. Mathai is also sceptical about the proposed divisional fee regulatory committee which will look into issues between parents and schools, as it consists largely of education department officials.