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Parents will have a say in determining the fee structure in schools across the state from the next academic year, regardless of the board a school belongs to and whether it is aided or not, and no school will be able to hike fees arbitrarily and without notice.
The Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday cleared the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Bill, a new legislation that attempts to end profiteering by schools. The bill will become law once it is cleared by the Legislative Council later this week. The legislation says that the fee to be charged by a school will be decided by an executive committee of the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) of that school. The committee will be headed by the school principal and will have one parent and one teacher from every class as its members. If there is a 15% difference in the fee recommended by the school management and the executive committee, the committee's decision will be final.If the difference is greater, the school management can appeal to a divisional fee regulatory authority headed by a retired district court judge. The next appeal can be made to a state-level review committee headed by a former high court judge. The decision of this committee will be binding. The bill is a watered-down version of the original draft. Placed in the House in the budget session, it had been referred to a joint committee of 27 members from both Houses, which has diluted some provisions.While the original draft had said that the fee that is fixed would be valid for three years, the committee has reduced this period to two years. Charging excess fees, originally termed a non-bailable offence, is now bailable, and violators will attract imprisonment only for a second offence. A first time offence will attract a penalty of anything between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. The term of imprisonment initially proposed 3 years too has been reduced to a maximum of six months. School education minister Rajendra Darda, who tabled the bill, said: "The joint committee of the legislature has deliberated upon the bill and made certain changes in the original draft. We have also taken into consideration suggestions made by the public, by parents and by school managements. The new law will help end the commercialisation of education and exploitation of parents." Parents, though, are unhappy with the legislation. "In practice, parents don't have much say in the PTA because they are in a minority," said Milind Wagh, secretary of the non-profit group Forum Against Commercialisation of Education. "If the management proposes a hike, the teachers are unlikely to object to it."
Courtesy: Hindustan Times
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