Following a Karnataka High Court direction, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), on Sunday organised a stakeholders’ consultation meet to discuss issues pertaining to fixation of fees in unaided private schools, and related matters.
The day-long meet saw representatives from parents’ association, school managements, teaching and non-teaching staff associations participate and make recommendations.
“The proceedings of the meeting and the recommendations will be submitted to the court on May 29, as directed by it,” said Umashankar, Commissioner, DPI.
The HC had directed the department to hold a consultation meeting with the stakeholders, hearing a petition seeking a regulation in the fee structure of unaided private schools. The stakeholders, divided into four groups vetted various aspects that concern them with the priority being fixation of fees. The first group, which had the task of looking into this matter presented a series of recommendations, including the need to grade schools based on several pre-set criteria.
“It is important that the schools are graded, like it happens in Tamil Nadu before having in place a regulation to fix fee structures,” Jagannath, one of the members of the groups said. The group’s recommendations sought that schools be graded under various criteria such as location, infrastructure, quality of teaching, qualification of teachers, etc. “Schools from different grades must have different fee structures,” he said. They also argued that there is a need to look at the existing rule prescribing ‘what fees can include’.
“Presently, the rules say that fees should include salary plus 30 per cent divided by the number of students. However, with the introduction of RTE, there is a difference amount that becomes a burden on the managements, which needs to be revisited,” he said.
The group also insisted that schools which have obtained facilities like land, among other things, must be asked to collect lesser fees.
Guarantee from schools
An angry parent argued that the government increase the guarantee deposit collected from schools and make arrangements that will allow the DPI to deduct from it in case the school violates any criteria.
Satish, another parent, complained that many schools do not even have playgrounds, but parents are burdened with ‘sports fee.’ “If government schools can provide clean water and a good staff, we will move our children there,” another parent said.
Several issues including the need for introducing government cadre and recruitment rules for hiring of teachers in private schools were discussed.
Umashankar, on the demand of the stakeholders, said that draft copies of the recommendations will be circulated to all the regions in the State and district-levels meetings will be conducted.
“Following the district-level meetings, we will have another state-level meeting, before preparing a draft for public consultation and making the legislation,” he said.