Delhi school fee hike: Parents cry foul, fear schools may unilaterally hike fees without seeking education department nod

New Delhi: In what is seen as a U-turn from its earlier stance on school fees hike, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has issued a circular permitting the unaided schools to increase fees up to 15 percent, enabling the schools to pay salary to their teachers and other staff as per requirements of the 7th Central Pay Commission.

 Delhi school fee hike: Parents cry foul, fear schools may unilaterally hike fees without seeking education department nod

Representational image. AFP

The circular is issued at a time when the Delhi High Court had ordered 449 schools in Delhi to pay back the fees they have excessively collected from the students. As of now none of the parents have been paid back as asked by the court.

The circular allowing these schools to increase fees was issued on 17 October allowed the hike albeit after following few procedures prescribed by it.

"The managing committee of the school shall hold a meeting with the group of teachers and parents which would include at least one parent representative from each section of the school and will present the detailed budget of the school, financial statements of the previous year, requirements of funds for implementation of the 7th CPC recommendations availability of cash reserve with the school fund account etc.," the circular says.

Ashok Agarwal, president of the All India Parents Association complains that this regulation as farcical as it is not binding on the schools to accept the views of the parents.

"As per the circular the schools are bound to listen to the parents but are not bound to accept their advice," Agarwal says.

The circular says that presenting the case for fee hike to parents of the students should not be construed as seeking permission from them, which according to many parents makes it farcical.

"The government should have made it compulsory for all the schools to take permission from the education department before increasing fees. But that has not happened," he says.

Agarwal also says that rather than compelling the schools to seek permission from the education department, the circular merely adds some ‘Ifs’ and ‘Buts’ which can be easily overcome by the schools in order to increase fees.

The order says that the schools can increase fees only after exploring whether the financial obligations mandated by the 7th Central Pay Commission can be met from any other alternative source of revenue.

"Now this condition can easily be met by any school just by showing that it's all other sources of revenue have exhausted," he says.

The circular covers all three kinds of unaided schools prevalent in Delhi and allows them to increase their fees if they feel it necessary.

"The first two kinds of unaided schools -- the ones that are on private land and the ones which are on government land but not under legal compulsion to seek permission from the education department to increase fees, can anyway increase their fees without any permission under the present law," Agarwal says.

He says that to compel these schools to take permission from the government it was a separate law that was to be enacted, which has not been done.

The third category of schools which cannot increase fees without permission from the government due to legal compulsion could have been compelled by the circular itself to seek permission before they increase fees, but parents complain that the Delhi government shied away from this responsibility too.

"The third category of schools are the ones which are on government land and are required to take permission from the education department to increase fees," he says.

As per a Supreme Court order, this category of schools are bound to seek permission from the education department to increase fees.

Despite this order, the Delhi government lets these schools increase fees even without seeking permission.

The circular says that in order to prevent any further delay in giving benefits of 7th Central Pay Commission to the teachers and other employees and to ensure that the burden of payment of arrears does not accumulate on parents due to delay a fee increase is permitted.

These are schools which don't get funds from the government, they have been given land at discounted rates, with some conditions that require them to take the permission of the Directorate of Education before raising the fee and set aside seats for poor students, among others.

There are 400 such schools in Delhi which are bound by such legal compulsion.

The order to increase the fees of unaided schools is seen in sharp contrast with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's earlier stance where he threatened to take over 449 schools which failed to return the excessively collected fees to the guardians.

Significantly the circular allows an increase of fees in retrospective effect from 1 January 2016.

"The schools shall make calculations as per 7th Pay commission’s recommendations for arrears of salary to be paid to the employees with effect from 01.01.2016 to 30.11.2017," says the circular.

It also says that the parents have to pay the arrear fees in two or three instalments.

"The arrears of tuition fee, shall be collected from parents/guardians in two or three instalments. The first instalment may be collected by the month of December 2017 and the final instalment latest by 31st of May 2018," the order says.

During the 2015 assembly election, the regulating fees of unaided school were one of the main promises.

SK Bhattacharya who heads a common platform of unaided schools said to Firstpost that many schools in Delhi would not be able to pay their staffs and teachers as per 7th Pay Commission even after 15 percent increase in fees.

"There are more than 1,500 such schools in Delhi. Most of them are budget schools. The prescribed increase in fees will hardly enable 500 of them to increase fees. For salary advised by the 7th Pay Commission is too high for most of these schools in comparison to the revenue earned by them as fees," says Bhattacharya.

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Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 21:03:49 IST