PUNE: Parent activists in the education sector are taking State Education Minister Vinod Tawde’s big announcements with a pinch of salt, which he makes every other day to ‘improve’ the State’s education scene.
Moreover, officers in the Education Department, too, seem to be quite ignorant about these big promises made by the minister.
Last month, Tawde announced that if 25 per cent of the parents associated with a school complain about a fee hike there, action would be taken against the respective school. Parent activists feel that this might increase difficulties for them instead of helping them. It might also affect the implementation of the Fee Regulation Act (FRA).
Being a part of the fight against fee hike for a long time, parent activist Prasad Tulaskar said expecting the suffering parents to garner a strength of 25 per cent for action to be taken against an erring school is unfair.
“Grievances and opinions of each and every parent need to be heard and resolved. Every time, it is not possible to bring together a strength of 25 per cent parents against a school, as many are scared to go against the school management. Thus, it seems under the disguise of helping the parents, the minister is instead supporting the schools,” he alleged.
Tulaskar added, “Last year, a few parents were included in the committee, which was appointed to bring about changes in the Fee Regulation Act. The State-appointed committee was headed by retired Justice VJ Palshikar. However, nowhere did we ever mention the requirement of 25 per cent of the parents complaining for action to be taken against the school. After the minister’s announcement, I filed an RTI inquiry on March 27 this year with the Ministry of Education regarding the announcement asking who made this particular suggestion. In the reply that I received on April 12, it was mentioned that no one from the department or committee suggested this, implying that it was totally Tawde’s decision.”
He said suppose there are around 3,000 students in a school, how difficult would it be for 750 parents to file a complaint of fee hike against the school?
Commenting on similar issues, parent activist Mukesh Mangle said, “The government is just playing games. Private schools started gaining popularity since 1983. At the time, they were run by the people, who were close to the biggies in the government. Now, these early players have become bigger than political leaders. The government appears to favour them, ignoring the welfare of the common man. We condemn this decision, as filing a complaint should be the right of every single parent.”
It also appears that many officers in the department aren’t really aware of this ‘25 per cent rule’ announcement, as they haven’t received any official order on the same. When Sakal Times contacted a couple of officers concerned on the issue, they were ignorant about it.
The amendment ordinance has not yet been passed for the announcement. Once it is passed, the whole process is going to get very difficult for parents, Tulaskar said.
Activist Adv Anubha Sahai said, “This will severely affect the implementation of the FRA. Even the Supreme Court has stated that the government should intervene if schools are indulging in the commercialisation of education. However, if the parents are unable to complain, because there aren’t 25 per cent of them, how will the government take action? This is against the Constitution, and hence this requirement needs to be taken back.”
THE ORDINANCE WILL AMEND FEE REGULATION ACT
Recently, Education Minister Vinod Tawde announced in the Legislative Assembly that 25 per cent of the parents can come together and file a complaint against schools charging exorbitant fees. If these many parents together complain against the fee hike, they will be able to approach a statutory fee regulatory committee. Earlier, only school managements were in touch with the committee. The State government has decided to bring in an ordinance to amend the Fee Regulation Act to give parents rights in their disputes with school managements.