‘Consequent profiteering by schools deteriorating education scenario’
SRINAGAR: An umbrella association of parents of children studying at private schools has alleged that the government’s Fee Fixation Committee (FFC) was deviating from the mandate it was constituted for, and the “consequent profiteering” by private schools has led to a deteriorating education scenario.
In a statement, the Parents’ Association of Privately Administered Schools (PAPAS) said that “due to some vested interests, the evident results are not coming to the fore front”.
“It seems that the FFC has deviated from the agenda and mandate for which it was formulated,” the association said.
The parents’ body said that the FFC has “of its own will, and to benefit the school management, changed the benchmark for the regulation of fee structure from August 1, 2014 to September 2018”. This, they said, happened irrespective of the fact that most of the schools having tuition fee of Rs 1000 prior to the new bench mark of 2018 have not regularised their fee structure from the committee.
Earlier this year, the FFC allowed private schools a yearly hike of upto 6 percent in fee structure from September. Earlier, the committee had allowed only a eight percent hike over three years from the baseline tuition fee as was in vogue on August 1, 2014.
“The school managements have started profiteering by making 6 percent hike in the present fee without getting their fee structure regularised by the committee,” the PAPAS alleged.
“And the parent, who raises the issue is being harassed by misinterpreting the order 1 of 2019,” it added.
The PAPAS also questioned the FFC’s decision to change the baseline of the fee by four years without orders from the state High Court.
“Logically, there seems to be no mandate to FFC by HC to change the date line of fixation of fee from August 2014 to September 2018 without prior permission of the High Court,” PAPAS said.
It demanded that the baseline of August 2014 be maintained “so that parents are safeguarded from unnecessary profiteering” by the private schools.
The parents’ body further alleged that “No action has been taken against schools violating order 1 of 2019”.
Stating that the FFC was being run “single handedly” by a few officials, the PAPAS said the committee needed to be supplemented with staff from Finance and School Education departments.
It also demanded that the fee charged by the private schools and facilities provided at the institutions be made available online.
The PAPAS said that despite set norms, parents were being forced to deposit hefty “self defined charges” including annual, computer and printing fee.
The schools also adopt curriculum, “which suits their monetary benefits” despite clear regulations by the government to that they shall not adopt courses of study other than those prescribed by the school education board, it said.
The PAPAS said none of the schools was currently following the JKBOSE approved curriculum.
The parents’ body urged the government to make mandatory for schools not to change curriculum without taking parents on board and prior permission from JKBOSE.
The PAPAS also pointed out that JK was the “only state” without a fee regulation act “because of vested interests”.
With each private school having its “own yardstick for charging transport fee”, the PAPAS demanded that a body for regulation of transport fee be set up to bring in transparency and uniformity in the said fee head.
The parents, it said, were “coerced to pay as per the monopoly of the school management”.
The PAPAS also demanded to bring FFC as well as private schools under the ambit of RTI to make them accountable and bring transparency in their working.