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1 Jun 2017

CM hands schools stick to self-regulate - Appeal to keep fee hike low

TT, May 31: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today announced a "self-regulatory commission" for private schools with the majority of members drawn from those institutes rather than one entirely driven by the government, as in the case of private health care.
The primary objectives of the commission would be to monitor the fee structure of private schools, ensure that they do not charge donations against admission, keep the annual tuition fee hike reasonable, examine the balance sheets of institutes facing allegations of financial irregularities and look into grievances.
The commission would have a website for anyone to lodge a complaint. A meeting of the commission would be held every three months to take up grievances, if any. In the event of a dispute, the commission would forward it to education minister Partha Chatterjee.
"We have received complaints against some private schools about high fees. We do not want to interfere in the internal matters of private schools. That does not look nice. But I also feel there is a need to have a system to look into the problems of private schools. There should be some mechanism... I would seek a suggestion from you whether you would want a regulatory commission or self-regulatory commission," chief minister Mamata had told the Town Hall gathering.
The majority said they were in favour of a self-regulatory commission. Towards the end of the meeting, Mamata announced that a self-regulatory commission it would be.
The commission would have 15 members - representatives of 10 English-medium schools of Calcutta, the Archbishop of Calcutta, the Bishop of the Calcutta Diocese of the Church of North India, the school education secretary, the state director-general of police and the commissioner of city police.
The chief minister did raise some complaints against a section of schools, mostly pertaining to a hike in tuition fees and donations. But when she interacted with the school representatives during the hour-long meeting, there was not a trace of the stand she had taken some months ago against private health care.
Mamata said that since the only source of revenue for private schools was tuition fees, an annual hike was a legitimate thing to do. "There should not be any problem if the hike is a maximum of five per cent. But please do not raise fees to the extent of 10 to 15 per cent every year. This becomes a burden on parents... Please understand their problems," she implored them.
Mamata also mentioned a complaint against Shri Shikshayatan School that students were allegedly being forced to listen to speeches of leaders of a particular political party. Pointing out that Shri Shikshayatan was her alma mater, the chief minister said: "This is not fair. Schoolchildren should not be forced to listen to political speeches in this way. I would have opposed it if a school had forced children to listen to even my own speeches."

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