Parents want more teeth for fee panel

Schools across the state opened last week after a two-month summer break
CHENNAI: Schools across the state opened last week after a two-month summer break. The excitement of a new session has been marred by agitating parents and adamant managements over the issue of school fees. While Bala Vidya Mandir parents protested for days outside the school over the differential fee issue, at Asan Memorial Senior Secondary school, the fee hike has become a bone of contention.
All this despite the Tamil Nadu Government laying down stringent guidelines and private schools fee determination committee fixing the fee for every institution. Parents and activists say that managements are constantly circumventing norms because the rules are not strictly implemented. Most feel it is up to parents to check this.
S. Arumainathan is one such parent and president of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Students’ Parents’ Welfare Association, who over the years has helped several parents lodge complaints with the fee committee and get refund of the excess fee. The association has managed to get a refund of '2 crore from about 20 schools since 2009.
Narrating his experience with the committee, Mr Arumainathan explains it is not an easy task to fight private schools as the case in the committee goes on for weeks and most of the parents from districts who can’t afford to spend much time and money to attend the hearings on a regular basis leave the battle halfway.
Arumainathan welcomes the initiative taken by parents of Bala Vidya Mandir against the management, as according to him parents of CBSE schools do not complain with the committee against exorbitant fee.
Parents say the committee should be given more powers to initiate action against schools that don’t abide by its order. Mr K. Senthil Kumar, a parent, pointed out that at present the committee directs the Directorate of School Education or the Director of Matriculation Schools to take action against errant schools. If the school still resists the order then with no option left parents need to move the court. “Why not the state government provide more legal powers to the committee to enable it to directly take action against the school?” he asks.
Going further, the Students’ Federation of India has demanded the state government to make schools collect fees either through banks or through the district chief educational officer’s office concerned..
“When private engineering colleges can collect fees through banks why not the same procedure be followed in schools? This will not only bring in transparency in the functioning of private schools but make school managements accountable,” P.Uchimakali, state president, SFI, said.
( Source : dc )
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