Parents’ association protests order on private school fees

Parents’ association protests order on private school fees
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Alleges commercial interests at play; fee committee chairman says ‘balanced view’ taken

Srinagar: The government’s ‘Fee Fixation Committee’ (FFC) has allegedly lied over taking on board parents’ associations while allowing private schools a 6 percent fee hike every year and additional fees under new heads, like annual fee, which it did not recognise in the past.
Monday’s decisions by the FFC came a year after the committee for the last academic session allowed a hike of up to 8 percent in tuition fee. The eight percent hike was applicable for 3 years as per the FFC order, which was issued in October 2017.
Now the FFC has fixed the hike slab at 6 percent, but Monday’s order also says that schools wishing to cross the limit can do so after asking the committee.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Parents’ Association of Privately Administered Schools (PAPAS) condemned the FFC’s latest order as being “against parental interests” and a “very wrong precedent”.
The FFC, the statement alleged, has “caved in to the pressure of school mafia for reasons best known to the Committee.”
“The FFC has referred to have taken various Parent Bodies & School Associations on board while drafting this order. We reject this claim as baseless and challenge the committee to please name the associations/ parent bodies who have given their concurrence to this objectionable order,” reads their statement.
“No parent body or school parent association has been taken on board before drafting this order,” it added.
The association alleged that “the entire contents of the order seem as if drafted by some School Administration (with profit as prime motto in mind) and customarily signed by the FFC.”
“The same can be seen from the change in stand of the FFC which till date didn’t even recognize the “Annual Fee” component of schools and now it has (in a way) given its kind approval for the Annual Fees to be Rs 6,000 and compounded @ 6% per annum along with Tuition Fees,” said the statement.
“This is surprising and shocking at the same time. This would mean that schools that have low Annual Fees will also obviously raise the same to 6,000 levels which will be a suicidal burden on poor parents,” it said.
“The most objectionable part of this order,” the PAPAS said, was that it “benchmarks the Fee Structure of schools as on August 2018, which is contrary to last year’s benchmark date of August 2014 when the 8 percent hike in tuition fee was allowed by the FFC.
“This increase is in addition to the already allowed hike of 8% by FFC… This is absolutely what school mafia intended and finally got it passed from FFC,” reads the statement.
The “annual depreciation of the investment” used in by FFC in the order while allowing schools a fee hike “signify essence of commercial interests in education sector which is very clearly and plainly banned by the Honorable Supreme Court in various judgments,” the PAPAS said.
Chairman FFC, Justice (retd) Hakeem Imtiyaz told Kashmir Reader that feedback from parents was taken on the basis of “individual” meetings with them. He mentioned parents of students at DPS Baramulla and Green Valley Educational Institute whom he met in Jammu.
The 6 percent annual hike, Imtiyaz said, was decided after schools approached the committee citing school expenditures including “annual hike” in the salaries of the staff.
While the FFC did not allow the annual fee, Imtiyaz admitted, “But every school is charging it.”
Monday’s order, he said, had been issued on the basis of a “balanced view”.
“If you are rationalising things and if you are not allowing a school to charge admission fee, then you have also to see how the school sustains,” he added.
He said that the schools would not be allowed to charge admission fee, which they take in thousands from students.
Asked whether the parents he met were on board while sanctioning the fee hike to the private schools, Imtiyaz said, “Not formally. Not as such… We have just heard them.”