Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Parents push for drastic amendments to Fee Act


PUNE: From making any fee for extracurricular activities optional for the parents to choose, to putting members of the management behind the bars without bail for profiteering from making it mandatory to buy school uniforms, shoes of a particular brand from the school, a group of parents from Pune have suggested various amendments to the proposed Fee Regulation Act for schools.

They suggested over 20 amendments to the existing Fee Regulation Act 2011 and several additions. The last day to send amendments was June 3. The suggestions were sought by the education ministry after parents organised protests and gheraoed education minister Vinod Tawde several times against loopholes and non-implementation of the Fee Regulation Act 2011.

The amendments say a PTA general body meeting should be called within 15 days from the date of formation. "In the executive PTA, which is the decision-making body, one parent from each division of every standard should be included and one teacher from one grade should be involved. The chairperson should be from the parents' representatives. Any parent should be allowed to contest elections of EPTA every year. The minutes of the meeting should be displayed on the website and the notice board. A general body meeting shall be twice in an academic year and the words before 'August 15' should be deleted from the current FRA 2011," Prajakta Pethkar, a parent involved in the formulation of amendments, said.

About fee collection, the suggested amendments said caution money should be refunded with the leaving certificate when a student leaves the school and also that once hiked, the approved fee will remain binding for three years. Admission fee should be taken only once and be equal to a one-month tuition fee.

"When proposing a fee hike, the management shall submit all documents listed in section 12 including the past two years' audited accounts and balance sheets," Sunil Choudhary, another representative of the parents' group, said.

The district fee regulation committee shall decide the appeal on dispute in 60 days instead of 90 days, Pethkar said. "Surplus funds available with the school should be put on the website and government should define it. A PTA member shall have the right to appeal before DFRC which shall have powers to entertain the appeals pertaining to violation of any aspect of FRA," Anil Sathe, a representative of the parents' group from Mumbai, said.

Regulations and maintenance of accounts as per section 12 (a, b,c ) of the rule book should be applicable. Audited balance sheet for three years should be uploaded on the website. Along with the principal, the board of trustees should be held responsible for maintenance of records. Provisions of Charitable Trust Act should be applicable, Choudhary added.

"Whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, should be held responsible and a cognizable offence with imprisonment of 3-5 years should be applicable as punishment. Repeated or second offence will attract nomination of government administrator for minimum five years on the management of the school or withdrawal of NOC or change of management as per prevailing provision of change in management," Sathe said.


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