Centre Mulls Law to Check Arbitrary School-fee Hikes
New Delhi: The Centre is planning to bring in a regulation to check arbitrary fee hikes by private schools. The move comes after the success of the Uttar Pradesh government's legislation, brought in this year, to regulate fees charged by private schools, including minority ones, in the state.
According to a senior official, the Centre is consulting all stakeholders and trying to build a consensus before the move is implemented.
"It is for the states to regulate fees as the schools are registered there. The central government is having internal discussions on this. It's also reaching out to states and other stakeholders for a consensus," said the official.
In April this year, the UP government approved + the 'ordinance for self-financed independent schools (regulation of fees) bill 2018' to tighten the noose around schools charging staggering fees. The law restricts private schools from raising fees beyond 8 per cent.
The UP government decided to take the ordinance route as the Assembly was not in session. This is applicable to all private schools, including minority institutions, affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and the UP board.
As per the UP ordinance, schools are not only stopped from arbitrary fee hike, but are also not allowed to charge any capitation fee. But the Centre is looking at some additional features such restrictions on "charging admission every year and changing school uniforms annually".
Apart from prohibitive fines for flouting rules, the Centre is also looking at provisions to de-recognise schools for three violations. Fees charged by schools in the 2015-16 academic year have been taken as the base for implementation of the regulations. These regulations will apply to schools that charge more than Rs 20,000 per annum as fees.
"The success of the fee cap in private schools of UP has been closely studied by the central government with an aim to extend it to other states. We have realised that whenever you take all stakeholders into confidence and engage with them, listen and address their concerns, consensus is reached. This is the reason for the success in UP. Some of the good practices of states should be encouraged so that others can also benefit from these," the official said.
Earlier in 2017, the Gujarat assembly had passed a fee regulation act. Maharashtra already has a similar act in place. Since 2017, Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has been talking about a national-level school fee regulation mechanism.
(Indebted to various sources)