Two weeks to refund excess fees or we will take over: Delhi govt to 449 schools
The Delhi government looks pretty serious about its crack-down on schools charging exorbitant fees. Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal has already cleared its proposal to take over errant private schools if they fail to refund excess fees.
The Aam Admi Party government is set to issue showcause notices to 449 private unaided schools over the issue. And the warning seems to be working.
"Take over of schools is the absolute last resort. Many schools have started returning the excess fees. My team and I have been receiving emails from parents after receiving money back from school," Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia said. "Hopefully, we will not have to take over the schools at all if all comply."
Atishi Marlena, education advisor to the Delhi government pointed out that the Delhi School Education Act that governs all schools in Delhi, whether government or private schools, provides two courses of action: De-recognise errant schools or take over their management.
Sisodia and Marlena talked about the the possible takeovers on a Facebook Live Tuesday.
"The govt does not want to go with the former course of action that affects the students more than anyone else. Hence, the only other option is to takeover the management and these private schools will essentially become government-run schools. However, this decision will not have a direct affect on the students or teachers," Marlena told Catch.
The Arvind Kejriwal government has given schools two weeks to respond to its notice by either refunding excess fees or explaining the fees hike and why they should not be taken over.
The government will take them over only if their responses are found unsatisfactory, said Sisodia, who is also the deputy chief minister of Delhi.
"Schools can provide all the facilities they want and charge for it. But if the hike in fees is being done to open a new branch of the school in other cities or if the fees is being siphoned into buying land, that is not permitted,” he said.
No reason to worry
While speaking on Facebook, Sisodia addressed concerns and questions of worried parents and students and said “Even if the govt takes over a school, the school will function as it is with the teachers, staff, academics and fees being same. Only the management will be under the government and we will handle the finances.”
A Delhi High Court appointed committee found that 554 private schools in Delhi hiked their fees unreasonably and recommended that the hiked fee be refunded to parents along with a 9% interest. According to the findings, the amount collectively owed by the schools amounted to around Rs 300 crore. In all, 105 schools complied with the High Court’s order and returned the excess fees. The rest of the 449 schools are now being sent showcause notices by the Delhi govt.
Sisodia alleged the previous governments were as involved in the scam as politicians held stakes in private schools.
“Whichever party was in government, the politicians from that party took land and opened private schools. How would they have asked schools to not hike fee. Under AAP govt, the schools will not be allowed to loot students like they used to do under previous governments due to political collusion,” he said.