After passing a price cap on cost of medical treatments at private hospitals, the Siddaramaiah government is aiming to bring a price cap on private school fees.
According to sources, during the cabinet discussions, Siddaramaiah has agreed to take up the long pending draft on fixing school fee structure, on the lines of Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017. Sources said that since KPME Bill was passed, there was a surge of demand from parents to regulate the fees charged by private schools.
The Karnataka Education Act, 2017, prescribes a fine of Rs 10 lakh on any school that charges more than the prescribed fee. However, even after more than two years of deliberations, the government has not been able to finalise the formula for identifying the fee caps for school.
However, with Siddaramaiah’s promise to take up the matter, mixed reactions are emerging across the state.
Current Status of Fee Structure
Multiple drafts consisting of the limits on fees structure have been tabulated under Karnataka Educational Institutions (Regulations of Certain Fees and Donations) Amendment Rules 2016, but none have been finalised.
The latest draft that was put forth in July 2017 suggested that the fees be fixed as per a set formula. As per the formula, the total salary paid to the school staff will be added by 50, 60, 75 or 100 percent of that amount, based on economical background and location of the school. This number will then be divided by the total number of students in the school, to arrive at a fee cap.
This formula however, was criticised heavily. “The fee cap mentioned in the draft is illogical and has arithmetic errors. The basis of arriving at the slabs itself is unscientific. Every school has a certain amount of resources at its disposal and they function according to their own norms. A rigid structure to decide the fee is unfair,” said D Shashi Kumar, General Secretary, Karnataka Associated Management of Private Schools.
Responding to many complaints against the draft, the commissioner for public instruction, Mohammed Mohsin, had formed a committee of experts to reexamine the formula adding more factors such as the socio-economic status of the locations of schools.
Parents Demand Immediate Implementation
As the draft on the fee structure was unattended for a long time, parents associations submitted several memorandums to the minister for primary and secondary education demanding the immediate implementation of a fee structure for unaided schools. The latest decision from the Chief Minister comes as a result of these demands.
Not all schools are aiming to exploit parents. We have been requesting the government to call for a meeting to discuss the matter, however, nothing of the sort has taken place so far. It is important that the stakeholders be consulted before any decision is made. They want us to install CCTV cameras in all parts of the school, where will the money for that come from?Mansoor Ali, Member Board of Management at Delhi Public School
Over the last few years, parents have been complaining that the management of schools charge hefty amounts in the name of fees especially as part of application, admission and other announcements. “Every year, I have been setting out more than a lakh just for my son’s primary school education. It is difficult for a single parent like me to manage this. I am happy that the government has at least initiated talks in this regard,” said Priti Anand, homemaker.
The government has been mulling about implementing a regulation system for the private education sector over the last two decades. “I hope at least this time, the government will work closely with both the parties, parents and schools, and finalise on their decision soon,” said Ramesh Kolla, a businessman.