Published: 11th December 2020
ICSE association in Odisha oppose Govt endorsed MoU on fee waiver for private unaided schools
The report said a MoU was signed by all stakeholders over waiver or reduction of fees in unaided private schools for the COVID-19 period
The Orissa High Court on Thursday adjourned to December 15 hearing on the school fee waiver row after the Association of Orissa ICSE Schools strongly opposed the report submitted by the Principal Secretary of School and Mass Education Department after mediation with stakeholders.
The report said a MoU was signed by all stakeholders over waiver or reduction of fees in unaided private schools for the COVID period. In an affidavit, Secretary of the Association Father S Joseph opposed the report on the ground that English Medium Schools like the 50 DAV Schools and around 100 ICSE schools functioning in the state were not among the stakeholders who signed the M0U.
Joseph said such a report cannot be said to be a report of the Principal, Secretary as it is based on a so called MOU submitted before the Secretary by some vested interest person who claimed to be the stake holder representing the DAV Schools or ICSE Schools Associations."Furthermore the Principal Secretary has not given opportunity to the other institutions who have requested to have a say in the matter. Hence such a report of the Principal Secretary is not acceptable", he said, adding, "If at this juncture such an illegal and biased report will be accepted then the ICSE Schools and many other institutions will suffer irreparable loss and would unable to manage their institution".
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Biswanath Rath was hearing the three PILs which had sought waiver of school fees for students of private schools in view of the COVID -19 pandemic. The three PILs were filed by Odisha Abhibhabak Mahasangha, Mohamed Mustaq and Prahallad Rout.In his affidavit Joseph also negated the Odisha Abhibhabak Mahasangha's claim in an affidavit that a resolution issued by the school and mass education department on September 23, 1996 gives the State the power to regulate the fees being charged by the schools.
"The September 23, 1996 resolution lost its significance after introduction of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and the Rules, 2010 framed by the State Government and Center Government", Joseph contended. "Be that as it may the Government resolution does not empower the State to regulate the fees structure of the private English Medium Schools. Except it keep a rider on the institution not to charge in capitation fees or voluntary donation for gaining admission in the school", he said. The Mahsangh had filed the affidavit after the State government claimed in an affidavit that it has no policy decision on waiver or reduction of fees in unaided private schools in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides, there is no mechanism either at State or district level for fixation of fee for unaided private schools.The report submitted by the Principal Secretary school and mass education department after mediation had stated that the MoU signed by the stake holders had agreed upon different waiver rates as per different slabs of school fee structure.