Maharashtra muzzles parents fee hike protests

Nov 27, 2018, 13:50 IST | Pallavi Smart

Angry parents say regulation requiring at least 25% of them to come together against fee rise will empower school managements

Maharashtra muzzles parents fee hike protests
Prasad Tulaskar says refusing to let parents approach the DFRC with complaints comes across as a conspiracy to safeguard school managements' agenda; (right) Anubha Sahay says the government is supporting commercialisation in education

Parents will no longer have the right to challenge fee hikes in school, until 25 per cent of them from the same institution come together for it *Schools can now charge parents for late fees with additional interest *In unforeseen circumstances, schools will have a right to hike fees, provided the management has the support of 76 per cent of parents.

In a major blow to parents' fight against exorbitant fee hikes in schools, the state government on Monday passed the new amendment to the Maharashtra Educational Institution Fee Regulation Act (2011), which includes some of the above points. Angry parents feel that the regulation will only empower school managements.

The changes were severely criticised by the parents' community since a proposal for them was made earlier this year. There were protests, signature campaigns, a movement of signing a petition by parents against the proposed amendment, followed by meetings with authorities as well as the education minister. Parents fear that the Fee Regulation Act will continue to exist like other toothless regulations. "The amendment bill has been passed and now will be forwarded to the Legislative Council from where a committee will be recommended to further suggest points if any within six months from the formation of the committee," said a senior official from Mantralaya.

Prasad Tulaskar, a parent who had complained against the fee hike in IES Modern English School in Dadar, feels this is the government's way of siding with school managements. Tulaskar was one of the first parents to approach Divisional Fee Regulation Committee (DFRC) since its inception in the year 2016. "This is a major setback to the Fee Regulation Act and the complaints of fee hike by parents.

This looks like the state government brought in the Act to make parents believe that it is taking a stand against the exorbitant fee hike by private schools. But the amendment clearly suggests that it was just an eyewash. It is the democratic right of a parent to challenge a fee hike in school. At least DFRC should hear the cases and then give a decision, even if it is against the complainant parent. But completely refusing to let us approach with complaints comes across as a conspiracy to safeguard school managements' agenda. With this amendment they are allowing schools to openly charge late fees along with interest. Are we educating children or running a business?" said Tulaskar.

Another parent, Anubha Sahay, from India Wide Parents' Association, said, "This amendment is anti-parents. The government is favouring school managements. The government is supporting commercialisation in education."

MHRD's new declaration
The central Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has instructed all states and union territories to comply with its guidelines regarding specific school bag weight parameters for each class, and a no homework policy for class I and II.

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