Friday, March 27, 2009

Goan parents lambast schools for arbitrary fee hikes

Rampant fee hikes by unaided private schools in Goa came for a critical review amidst shocking revelations at a meeting organised by aggrieved parents of children who study in such schools. The meeting was held at the BPS club at Margao on Thursday 26th March 2009 and was impressively attended by over 400 parents of children studying in different private schools in Goa.

Triggered by the protest of a few parents who opposed the hike in fees by a Margao based school recently, the meeting was well attended by parents who sought a solution to the unethical commercialisation of education in Goa and arbitrary levying of fees by private schools.

The parents body while tentatively deciding to meet the Director of Education on 2nd of April, categorically demanded that the directorate of education should set up the authority who should exercise its powers to inspect and audit the account statements of recognized unaided schools in Goa.

Specifying various sections of the law which are constituted to protect citizens from being cheated, the founder member of the body Mr Orlando Pacheco lamented at the blind attitude of the government of Goa  in enforcing the law to protect Goans from paying exorbitant fees for childrens' education by private schools who are now trying to increase the fees even further on the pretext of the sixth pay commission recommendations.

The forum also explored the setting up of a committee of experts to handle financial matters and prepare a report on whether the schools can pay the teachers the salaries as per the sixth pay commission from the existing fees currently being charged.

Pointing out to the governments apathy in solving the problem, Mr Orlando Pacheco drew an analogy between the private buses and the public buses who are both regulated by the government of Goa.Mr Pacheco said that schools are more important than buses and sought the immediate intervention of the government to regulate fee structure of the schools and examine their accounts while demanding the adherence to various sections of the Goa school education Act 1984.

Mr Franky Monteiro, another founder member of the forum, also pointed out gross irregularities which had come to their notice in a Margao School, wherein excess funds amounting to lakhs of rupees have been illegally transferred from the tuition fee account to the accounts of the construction funds which is in violation of section 10, sub section 6(b) of the Goa School education act 1984, and is also in a clear violation of the Supreme court guidelines issued in the 27th April Judgement in the Modern School case of Delhi

The open forum saw various speakers slamming the government for introducing the konkani medium for primary education in government schools thereby monopolising the English education by private unaided schools leading to the current impasse. Speakers lambasted the elected representatives  who have enforced the vernacular medium of instruction on Goan citizens while themselves admitting their children to  English schools. They argued that the schools should be given the choice of choosing their medium of instruction.

The meeting also demanded that the government schools examine the accounts of unaided private schools and urged an audit authorized by the comptroller and auditor general of India.

Armed with the booklet of various sections of the Goa school education act 1984, supreme court guidelines and supreme court rulings on similar cases, the forum demanded hat the DoE should not give approval to any fee hike by the management of unaided recognised schools in Goa till  their accounts are examined and a report prepared by the committee appointed by the government.

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