Demand to make amendment of FRA more parent-friendly

Prajakta Joshi
Friday, 26 October 2018

"Even a single person can go to the court in case of violation of fundamental rights and imposition of capitation fees is a clear violation,” Adv Anubha Sahai of the Association said.

PUNE: While the tiff between many private schools and parents associations over, the issue of arbitrary fee hikes continues across the state, India Wide Parents Association started protesting against the proposed Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Fee Regulation) Act 2011 (FRA). Demanding an amendment, the association alleged that the bill is completely in favour of schools and highly unjust with parents.

“One of the major concerns is the provision that action will be taken against schools in cases of arbitrary fee hikes if 25 per cent of the parents associated with the school come together and complain against it. The State-appointed committee headed by retired Justice VJ Palshikar to look into the amendment of the FRA had not made any such recommendation. Even a single person can go to the court in case of violation of fundamental rights and imposition of capitation fees is a clear violation,” Adv Anubha Sahai of the Association said.

She said it was difficult to get so many parents together to complain against the school, as most of the parents are afraid that it will reflect poorly on their children’s education. “Suppose a school has a strength of 2,000 students then is it practically possible to get at least 500 of the parents together to file a complaint? This provision was illegal and I discussed its consequences with the education minister.”

As Sakal Times had reported in the month of April, post announcement by the State Education Minister Vinod Tawde, many activists and parents had opposed this provision.

Another provision is that if 75 per cent of the parents are ready to or have already paid the hiked fee, then the raise becomes legal, and the rest 25 per cent need to pay it as well.

“75 per cent of the parents can easily be made to pay hiked fees by using force. Also, many parents are not aware of their rights or the rules and could be manipulated by the schools. Does that mean that due to this, the vigilant parents who are fighting for their rights should also be made to pay? This amendment is clearly for the schools’ management, and the parents are going to face problems due to it,” parent activist Prasad Tulaskar said.

He stated that as per the amendment the provision that makes the school management pay fine if found guilty has also been removed. He added that despite opposition from parents, a recent RTI inquiry revealed that the bill was presented in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in July and there is a high possibility that it will be passed in the upcoming Winter session of State Assembly.

“The amendment has brought in rules for late fees and interest to be paid by parents, and the rate of interest is not mentioned clearly. This paves yet another way for schools to loot the parents in the name of rules. While this interest has to be charged in accordance with the government rules, there is no such mention in RTE Act,” Sahai added.

A petition has been launched on change.org appealing to the CM and other officials to take the issues of the amendment into consideration and make it more parent-friendly.

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