Stiff opposition from the managements of private schools has forced the government to keep parent- teacher associations (PTAs) out of the matters relating to fixation and increase in fees.

The government had in the original draft of the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions (Accounts, Fees and other Matters) Bill inserted a provision according to which no private institution could increase fees or collect any additional fund without prior approval. It was mandatory to put up any such proposal before the general body of parents and teachers, along with the details of the existing fees and other charges, with complete justification. The party aggrieved by the decision of increase or non-increase in the fees could file an appeal with the Deputy Commissioner concerned, who would decide the matter within a month.

However, the managements of the schools opposed the provision on the plea that parents were invariably averse to a fee hike and as such the proposal would never get through. Accepting their plea the government has amended the provision in the new draft and instead of putting the case for increase before the parent-teacher body, the management will be required to get approval from the competent authority.

Private institutions will have to maintain accounts as applicable to non-business organisations or “not-for-profit” organisations with the details of receipts, payment, the profit-and-loss account and the balance sheet. The accounts will be audited by a chartered accountant and the report submitted to the competent authority within six months of the end of the academic year.

They will also annually furnish the details of teachers, student enrolment, infrastructure and other statistics in the prescribed format. The new Act will replace the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation Act, 1997.

There are about 2,350 private schools in the state in all which will also be required to obtain recognition before the commencement of the next academic session.

The last date for submitting applications for recognition is January 31, which will be granted after carrying out inspection to ascertain whether or not the institutions have the requisite qualified staff and other infrastructure as per the norms.

The schools up to Class V will have to apply to the block primary education officer concerned and those running Class VI to Class VIII to the Deputy Director, Elementary Education, for which an inspection fee of Rs 5,000 has to be paid.

The elementary schools (Class I to Class VIII) will have to pay Rs 10,000. The senior secondary schools (Class IX to Class XII) will be granted affiliation (recognition) by the State Board of School Education.

A school running without obtaining recognition will be liable to be fined up to Rs 1 lakh at the first instance and thereafter Rs 10,000 per day.

Article is taken from The Tribune online edition