New questions will test “veracity of content of answers”

The Private Schools Fee Determination Committee is preparing a detailed questionnaire to be sent to nearly 2,200 schools in the State, its newly-appointed chairman, former judge of the Madras High Court Justice S.R. Singharavelu, said on Wednesday.

The committee had not fixed the fees for these schools earlier, citing lack of adequate information on the expenses incurred by the institutions as the reason.

“Now, we will be circulating a revised questionnaire with 10 to 12 questions. The schools will also have to produce their statement of accounts for the last three years, documents on tax returns files and financial statements submitted to the Directorate of School Education,” Mr. Singharavelu told The Hindu.

According to him, the new questions will test the “veracity of content of answers.”

The questionnaire will be circulated by the first week of September. Schools will have to respond by the third week of September and by mid-October, the entire exercise will be completed, he said.

The committee, which earlier engaged one auditor, will now rope in a team of four auditors.

The exercise of determining fees for private schools began in May 2010. The committee, then chaired by former judge of the Madras High Court Justice K. Govindarajan, stipulated the fees to be collected by 10,934 private, self-financing schools across Tamil Nadu.

Following this, nearly 6,500 private schools raised objection to the fee determined by the committee and sought revision. A revised report with details of fee that these schools could collect was released in June this year by the committee, with former judge of the Madras High Court Justice K. Raviraja Pandian as the chairman.

Schools could either move the Madras High Court, or appeal to the Committee again to revise the fees. About 100 schools have currently gone to the Madras High Court, and the committee has filed counter to a majority of the objections.

Five schools have approached the committee and a hearing has been scheduled on September 2.

“We are also getting complaints from parents every day. Some of them come with tears in their eyes. We have asked the respective CEOs to check if the schools that the parents complained about were actually collecting more than what was prescribed,” Mr. Singharavelu said, adding that schools can still appeal to the committee if they are unhappy with what was prescribed for them.

The committee's work is to ensure schools do not charge more than what they offer. “If we find out that schools are not adhering to the prescribed fee, we will be very stern with them,” he said.

Action could range from a fine to withdrawal of recognition to imprisonment, according to the Act.

RELATED NEWS

Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012

Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012