Hyderabad, Jan. 7: The recent orders of the state government to exempt private schools, which collect a fee of up to Rs 12,000 per annum, from the ambit of fee regulation, has evoked sharp criticism from parents.
They said the government has committed a grave blunder, as about 80 per cent of private schools collect less than Rs 10,000 per annum and the exemption will give these schools a free hand to raise the fee to Rs 12,000 without hesitation.
Several parents’ associations have decided to challenge the government orders in the AP High Court. Parents expressed fear that they will not be in a position to question schools’ managements that resort to an indiscriminate fee hike from the ensuing academic year, as the government itself has issued orders enabling them to charge up to Rs 12,000 without intimating the school department officials.
They alleged that the government in its bid to regulate just 10 per cent of big schools, which collect a huge fee, has allowed the remaining 90 per cent of schools to fleece parents; a majority of them from middle and low income groups.
“How can the government justify a fee of Rs 12,000 per annum for school students when it has fixed just Rs 10,500 per annum for engineering courses in colleges? It’s ridiculous on the part of government to take such hasty decisions without considering the ground realities,” said Mr D. Chandra Shekar Rao, a parent.
In August, 2009, the government had issued orders on fee regulation in all private schools under pressure from parents and students who took to the streets protesting the steep fee hike put in effect by various schools. The government made it mandatory for all schools to submit their income and expenditure details to district fee regulatory committees (DFRCs) and fix the fee accordingly. The schools had to seek the approval of the DFRCs before effecting a hike. However, the government failed to set up DFRCs in all districts as officials ex-pressed an inability to verify the accounts of every private school in the state, which amount to over 50,000, citing shortage of staff.
To fix this, the government issued fresh orders on January 5, exempting those schools, which charge less than Rs 12,000 per annum, from fee regulation, ignoring the fact that about 80 per cent of schools charge less than that amount.