Unhelpful fee regulation panel in Chandigarh: Parents: The Tribune India


Tribune press service

Naina Mishra

Chandigarh, April 16

The Chandigarh Department of Education’s fee regulation committee, formed four years ago, has failed in its goal of preventing commercialization and profiteering in private schools, and has disappointed many parents with its relaxed approach to such complaints.

A series of complaints filed by parents during the Covid-19 pandemic against rising fees failed to materialize because the department failed to act in time. Even though the department must adjudicate on complaints within 60 days, no action takes place before the very expiration of six months.

Sarabjit Singh, a parent who led the campaign against a private school on the issue of ‘fee hike’ in 2020, said, “Over 200 complaints have been filed against the school about the fee hike with of the fee regulation committee, but the department chose to respond after eight months and issued summonses to parents. Most parents had lost faith in the department’s operation and withdrew. I had to withdraw my child’s admission to school later.

While having a PIL in 2012, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana had ordered the Chandigarh administration to develop a fee regulation mechanism to control the profiteering and commercialization of school education. After dragging on for six years, the Punjab Unaided Educational Institutions Fees Regulation Act, 2016 was extended to Chandigarh on April 13, 2018, after approving the appointed members.

After the formation of a fee regulation committee for Chandigarh, parents were able to file complaints on issues related to school fees and schools’ leniency in marketing. The Secretary of Education (ES) is Chair and the DSE is Secretary Member of the Regulatory Committee, which would be made up of seven other members, including the DEO. However, retired bureaucrats were adjusted as committee members and no representation was given to parents or the general public.

One of the important provisions of the law is that private schools are required to upload their balance sheets to their websites. Although none of the schools complied with this provision, the Department of Education took no action against any school despite receiving hundreds of complaints from parents.

According to Section 11 of the Punjab Unaided Educational Institutions Fees Regulation Act 2016, “Any complaints received under this Act shall be reviewed by the regulator within 15 days from the date of its receipt in accordance with the prescribed procedure, and it will be finally decided within 60 days.

Nitin Goyal, chairman of the Chandigarh Parents Association, has called the Ministry of Education toothless when it comes to private schools. He said most parents were afraid to file complaints against schools for fear of victimization of their children.

No reports on school websites

One of the important provisions of the law is that private schools are required to upload their balance sheets to their websites. Although none of the schools complied with this provision, the Department of Education took no action against any school despite receiving hundreds of complaints from parents.