New law on anvil to check arbitrary fee hike in Kolkata's private schools
Kolkata: The state government will soon come out with a legislation to keep a leash on fee hike by the private schools in the city. The School Education department has already prepared a draft in this regard and is now seeking an opinion from experts. Sources in the department said that the legislation will come into effect after the Panchayat elections.
It is leant that a Committee will be formed which will function in the same manner as the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission. All schools in the state, regardless of board affiliations, will come under the oversight of this committee, which will be formed with representatives from schools as well as the state government. The maximum annual fee hike will not be more than 10 percent and there should be no fee hike in the midst of an ongoing academic session.
According to a senior official in the department, the schools will be divided into five grades (viz A, B, C, D and E) based on various factors like quality of teachers, the number of students, student-teacher ratio and the fee hike will be based on these parameters. The school authorities going for a fee hike will have to conduct a meeting with the parents' body of the school and place before them the reason behind enhancement of fees. Then the matter will be placed before the Committee which will also comprise government officials for the final approval.
The draft has also recommended that the fee structure should be based on five categories of schools like pre-primary, primary, high primary, secondary and higher secondary. The fees should be mentioned clearly on the websites of the respective schools.
Schools will form a committee of their own for redressal of complaints including that of sexual abuse. "If the matter cannot be solved by the school committee then it will be taken up by the Central Committee," an official said.
It may be mentioned that it was Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had first announced the formation of a regulatory body for keeping a check on the exorbitant fee hike in private schools during a meeting at Town Hall.
Friday also witnessed protests related to fee hike in two private schools — Sri Aurobindo Institute of Education based in Salt Lake and Bodhicariya Senior Secondary School in New Town respectively. In both the cases, it required police intervention to bring the situation under control.