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No blanket hike in fees: Minister

Parents can relax. Schools may be looking for a green signal to increase fees by 50%, but the state education minister has completely ruled out any such blanket hike. Speaking to Times City, Arvinder Singh Lovely said, “Schools can demand anything. But it is certain that we will not allow a hike of 50% for all schools. Strict action will be taken against any school that hikes fees without the permission of the Directorate of Education (DoE).”

Representatives of different schools have met the chief minister and also visited the DoE in the last few days to convince the government that a steep rise in fees is inevitable. Their contention has been that they have to pay 50-60% hike in the salary to their teachers along with arrears starting January 2006, as first reported by Times City. However, Lovely clarified that any hike would only be allowed on school-to-school basis. “Each school should come up with a proposal for a fee hike and tell us its requirement. The amount of hike will only be allowed depending on the accounts of each school, their strength of teachers and students, their expenditure, surplus money and other details,” Lovely said.

According to the education minister, the directorate keeps a record of the financial accounts of all the schools, and each school will have to prove its requirement to get permission for a fee hike. “Why will we allow a fee hike if a school already has surplus money,” said Lovely. But schools insisted that they may not be able to hike the salaries of their teachers unless they increase the fees.

As per the Sixth Pay Commission, the teachers have to get a hiked salary from October. “The student fees is the only source of our revenue. Despite being in private hands, schools have to go by the recommendations of the Central Pay Commission. In our school, we will have to pay over a crore as total arrears to teachers. So we are being forced to hike the fees,” said Madhulika Sen, principal, Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar. She added that a 50% hike in fees was justified if the arrears for 32 months have to be paid. She said that after the Fifth Pay Commission, HC had allowed a feel hike of 40% even when teachers had to be paid arrears of only 18 months.

Said Suman Kumar, principal, Bluebells International School, “Schools are making a collective effort to reach out to the government. But even a hike of 50% is probably insufficient.”

However, parents refuse to buy the argument. Looking at the long list of funds that the schools charge every year, parents feel that schools can never fall short of money.

“I pay development fund, grooming fund, building fund etc every year. Besides, where does the fee hike of 10% made by schools year after year go?” wondered a parent, who did not wish to be named. S L Jain, chairperson of National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC) replied, “School gives regular increments to teachers and other staff and the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission are over and above it. Our budget is always tight. We will soon approach the DoE again.”

Source : Times of India (11-10-08)



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