On November 10, the Government appointed Justice (Retd) Muzaffar Hussain Attar as Chairman of Committee for Fixation and Regulation of Fee of Private Schools, for a period of two years.
Soon after assuming the charge, the chairman underlined the need to streamline the fixation and regulation of fee by the private schools. The committee also underscored the need for many decisions required to be taken to ensure that imparting education remains saintly duty and not end up being a commercial activity as activities by them in recent past amply allude to.
Outlining the future plans, the committee has already restrained the management and owners of the private schools from collecting admission fee from the guardian of the children at the time of admission in their respective schools. Importantly also, the school management have been asked to pay back to the same to the guardians.
The decision comes when some schools, if not all, circumvented the recent government order imposing a ban on capitation fee or donation charged by them on admission. Despite directions by the Principal Secretary, School Education Department that no private school or person, while admitting a child, shall collect any admission fee from any child or his or her parents or guardians, the school management charged the fee in the disguise of “admission fee”.
It was not the case that the private have been deprived of their due in lieu of education and facilities they offer. The order had specifically mentioned that School Fee Fixation Committee mandated to regulate the fee structure in private schools has already ordered that private schools shall only charge tuition fee, annual fee, transport fee, voluntary special purpose fee, or any other fee.
“Any other fee” was by no means the capitation fees as it stands depreciated by the highest court of the country. There is a fine difference between reasonable fees and capitation fee. There is no denying that majority of the unaided institutions cannot be compelled to charge the same fees as is charged in the government institutions for the simple reason that they have to meet the cost of imparting education from their own resources and the main source can only be the fees collected from the students. However, any kind of commercialization of education should not be allowed and there is no reason of collecting exorbitant amount in the name of admission fee or even other fees should be allowed. The decision by the fee fixation committee asking the schools to return the amount is welcome and needs to be implemented by the official machinery.