Parents knock at Sonia's door on school fees

Kapil Sibals remarks draw flak

Parents knock at Sonia's door on school fees

In a letter to Gandhi, the All India Parents Association on Saturday said a law to regulate fees was needed as unaided private schools exploited the parents and students by imposing exorbitant fees and other charges. 

“The Constitution of India mandates the State to provide free and compulsory good quality elementary education to all children up to the age of 14 years. The unaided private schools are only extended hands of the State and, therefore, are also obliged to provide free education to the children,” the association asserted.

“Unfortunately, such a constitutional mandate has remained elusive all through. The students and the parents are being virtually looted by the greedy school managements under the patronage of the government. Thus, the child rights violation is rampant,” the representation to Gandhi further stated.

Since Gandhi is again heading the revived National Advisory Council (NAC) of the UPA government, the association wants her to make a legislative proposal to the government to regulate fee-structure in schools across the country.

In the past, the NAC had played key role in the enactment of such laws as the Right to Information Act and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Ashok Agarwal, association president, took exception to Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s recent comments that private schools were free to fix fees.

The Prime Minister should intervene in the matter, particularly in the context of the Right to Education Act that came into force in April, he said.

Power and duty
“The government has not only powers but the duty also to check commercialisation of education. What is needed is that either the definition part of capitation fee in the Act be repealed or provisions containing regularisation of fees to prevent commercialisation of education be inserted,” Agarwal said.

“The Act does not contain any provision authorising the government to regulate fees and other charges in private schools. It is a very serious matter that an Act may encourage and perpetuate the commercialisation of education,” Delhi Parents Association president Vijender Gupta said.

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