Fee regulation panel decision riles schoolkids’ parents in Gujarat

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Gandhinagar, April 6 (IANS) Parents of students of private schools in Gujarat on Friday flayed the announcement of forwarding the provisional fee structure to school managements by the Zonal Fee Regulatory Committee (FRC) set up by the state government without making it public.

The fee structure is, the parents claimed, in violation of the FRC Act brought by the Gujarat government last year.

The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat in 2017 brought the Gujarat Self-Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act to end exaggerated fee increases by private schools.

According to the fee structure stipulated in the Act, the fee band was Rs 15,000 for primary, Rs 25,000 for secondary and Rs 27,000 for higher secondary schooling.

Several parent bodies had been hoping that pending hearing in the Supreme Court, the FRC would stick to the said fee band. However, they said, they were shocked as the FRC had fixed provisional fees for over 200 schools in Ahmedabad between Rs 17,000 and Rs 82,000.

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Gujarat has 9,384 primary, 3,831 secondary and 3,032 higher secondary self-financed schools.

After the Act came into force, many of these schools challenged it and the Fee Regulatory Committee’s decision in the High Court.

The state’s contention was partially upheld by the High Court. However, it has since been caught in a legal tangle, with some school managements approaching the Supreme Court against the High Court order.

With apex court yet to deliver its final verdict, the parents said, their hopes lay in the FRC.

“The FRC is not willing to share the information on fees and sent it to school managements directly. Even parents who are supposed to pay the fees are not being given a copy of their provisional order,” lawyer Rohit Patel said.

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Dharmesh Patel, a leader of one of the parents’ bodies fighting for a rational fee structure, said it tantamount to “cheating”.

Many parents’ associations are said to be planning for a legal challenge to the FRC order.

Naresh Shah, president of one such association, said: “The courts had clearly stated that the fees must not be increased more than 10 per cent but school managements have got 15-20 per cent fee hikes.”

The Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing in the case from April 18.

–IANS

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