Yogi tightening noose around private schools, education commercialisation

Published On: 08, Dec 2017 | Source: business-standard.com

The government in (UP) is gearing up to tightening the noose around private schools that are arbitrarily charging high fees and indulging in commercialisation of education.

The government is now finalising the UP Self-Financed Independent School (Regulation of Fee) Bill for promulgation either through ordinance route or passing the Bill in the state legislature to make it an Act.

The draft bill comprises stringent provisions to deter private schools from either charging high fee or raising fees midway through the academic session.

The development fee could not be more than 15 per cent of the total fee component vis-à-vis rather flagrant manner in which most schools normally charge under this head. This could be as 50 per cent of the fee component or as high as 300 per cent in individual cases without much accountability.

Besides, the development fee corpus would only be incurred in ramping up the school infrastructure and not diverted to other sundry heads.

“We have studied the policy or proposed policy of various states, including Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu to prepare the draft bill. Now, we are seeking objections and suggestion from academicians and parents’ bodies before it is finalised,” said UP deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma.

The draft has been prepared under the light of a verdict by an 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court to regulate the fee charged by private schools in the country.

The rules once implemented through ordinance or an Act would be applicable to all the schools affiliated to recognised educational boards viz. CBSE, ICSE, UP Board, among others.

However, the private schools charging an annual fee up to Rs 20,000 would be exempt from the new rules and regulations.

To curb the tendency of private school managements to operate business activities from the educational premises, the bill proposes to club such income with the school’s revenues, so that the fee of the students could further be rationalised and brought down.

Replying to a Business Standard query, Sharma said the total number of schools in the state that would fall under the new regulation has still not been estimated.

However, given the large number of private schools operating in the state across the 75 districts, the number would easily run into several thousand, especially in big cities.

“Earlier, the private schools managed to get relief from the courts whenever the state government attempted to regulate their fee structure. To pre-empt such tactics, the state government has been painstakingly making sure to draft a watertight bill,” he added.

Sharma had visited several states during the preparation of the draft bill. He is an academic and a faculty at Lucknow University, besides a two-time Lucknow mayor before joining the cabinet. In fact, he was even touted to be a front-runner for the CM’s post in UP after romped home victorious in the 2017 state election.