Everyone finds ground to flay school Act changes

The Times of India
News Dated: 
16-Jun-2015

NEW DELHI: Turns out, the draft Bill to amend the Delhi School Education Act and Rules 1973 has pleased no one. One public school body has written back seeking more time to study the proposal and got it; another had called it a "draconian proposal" that'll discourage "social entrepreneurs" and a third group of activists—on the opposite side of the debate—have rejected it as too weak. The last date for submitting suggestions has been extended to June 22, 2015.

The Action Committee for Unaided Recognized Private Schools had written to the directorate of education seeking more time to respond to the draft made public last Thursday night. "I think the government's intentions are very clear. This Bill will curb the autonomy of public schools totally," says S K Bhattacharya, president. He adds that they are holding a meeting on June 16 and that they may explore the possibility of "legal remedy".

"It is really disappointing to see the draconian proposal for the amendment in Delhi School Education Act," begins R C Jain of Delhi State Public Schools' Management Association. He explains that "there are more schools in Delhi providing education [for] less than the ... per child expenditure [of] the government in its schools. The average fee bracket varies from Rs 200/month to Rs 10,000/month" and proceeds to argue that "the constitution of such committee (the fee review committee proposed in the bill) shall demoralize social entrepreneurs [from starting] school[s] in Delhi".

Jain asks why the government can't let "more social entrepreneurs start school in Delhi" and finds it "unfortunate" that said "entrepreneurs" are expected to "fulfill the norms and criteria". Finally, he writes that if the government must have a fee regulatory committee, "we recommend one nominated member from our association body must be the member".

On the other side of the debate are All India Parents' Association and lawyer-activists Social Jurist, who consider the new proposals too weak. "The amendment regulating admission at nursery level is vague and open to abuse," says their list of comments. "The proposed provisions regarding regulating fee... fail to cater to the mischief of exorbitant and unjustified fee hike."

The note also says, "It is a well-known fact that once a school charges fee from the parents, it becomes next to impossible to get it refunded."