DW BUREAU / CHANDIGARH
A Congress MLA on Thursday questioned his own government over the formation of a district-level regulatory body to look into the fee hike by private schools and sought the involvement of parents in the panel. He raised the issue after Education Minister Vijayinder Singla tabled the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Punjab assembly here on Thursday.
Informing about provisions in the Bill, which was passed on the concluding day of the special assembly session, Singla said if any school wished to raise fee, which can’t be hiked beyond eight per cent, it would have to issue a public notice a month in advance.
He said objections could be filed against the fee hike proposal with the regulatory body, including the deputy commissioner of the district concerned and the DEO (secondary education).
To this, Congress MLA from Gidderbaha Amrinder Singh Raja Warring asked whether only the deputy commissioner would be authorised or private persons like parents would also be included in the body.
He said the deputy commissioner would give permission for the fee hike as he usually “remained in touch” with prominent schools. “Private persons, including parents, should also be made a part of the body,” demanded Warring.
As per the Bill, two members to be nominated by the government from among eminent educationists would also be part of the body. Earlier, the opposition picked holes in the legislation, objecting to the fee capping provision. Stating that there was a “flourishing business” of schools in the state, AAP MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan said there should be no hike in fee for five years as done by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in Delhi.
Lok Insaaf Party MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains sought proper implementation of the Right to Education Act in private schools, stating that there was a government circular whereby poor students could seek admission to private schools if they were denied permission by government schools.
Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa too disagreed with the capping provision. He demanded that the fee hike should be linked to inflation rate so that parents were not burdened.
Replying to queries raised by the MLAs, the education minister said there was an overall capping of eight per cent on the fee hike.
The law proposed that if the father or earning member of a student’s family dies, he or she shall not be compelled to leave school on account of non-payment of fee and won’t be charged till the completion of studies.
The law also proposed to curb the practice prescribing specific uniforms/books.
The assembly also passed the Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019.