There seems to be no hope yet of a resolution to the issue of exorbitant fee being charged by private unaided schools, with managements and the Education Department failing to arrive at a consensus.
A recent seminar conducted by the department to discuss the issue, after the High Court of Karnataka directed the department to consult all stakeholders, ended on a dismal note with some participants walking out.
However, the department is now in the process of compiling a report based on the seminar to be submitted to the High Court on May 29.
At the seminar, a section of the participants walked out alleging that the department officials were in cahoots with the private school lobby.
“The department officials were pre-empting the discussion at the seminar and it defeats the objective of the High Court order. It was neither inclusive nor representative,” said educationist V.P. Niranjan Aradhya.
At the other end of the spectrum, members of the joint action committee of private schools claimed that any move to monitor private schools would “curb their freedom”.
However, Commissioner for Public Instruction S.R. Umashankar claimed that there was no difference of opinion among the stakeholders. “The report is in the draft stage and we have received several recommendations and suggestions from the stakeholders concerned,” he added.
An official of the department on the condition of anonymity said that there was a need to establish a commission or a committee (consisting of various stakeholders) to monitor and regulate the fee structure and other issues related to private unaided schools.
“There is a powerful private school lobby and the schools have crossed all limits and are exploiting parents,” the official admitted. However, any decision on this would have to be taken by the High Court after the department submitted its report, based on the outcome of the seminar.
Meanwhile, L.R. Shivarame Gowda, chairperson of the Joint Action Committee of Private Schools, defended the need to increase the fees annually.
He said: “The increase in fees is routine as prices of all commodities such as stationery and diesel have increased. Moreover, salaries need to be revised annually and we need to renovate infrastructure from time to time.”
Suggesting a way to solve the issue, he said that there could be three or four categories of schools based on infrastructure and quality of schools and fee structure could be fixed accordingly.
He also said that “market forces would prevail” and parents were free to make their decision. “The department can take action on any violations,” he added.