Published: 27th August 2021
AP sets up a toll-free number to monitor complaints against institutions flouting fee structure regulations
While other states have also capped fee at various levels, Karnataka still seems to be grappling with parents on the issue
The Andhra Pradesh School Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commission (APSERMC) on Thursday said action would be taken against private unaided schools and junior colleges if they fail to comply with the fee structure that it prescribed on Wednesday this week. APSERMC chairman Justice (retired) R Kantha Rao said, “... for the first time, the State government has fixed the fee structure for the private unaided schools and junior colleges in the State for 2021-22, 2022-23 and 2023-24,” citing exorbitant fee charged by the institutions in the state as the reason behind the decision, and claiming that it was taken keeping in mind the state’s poor and middle-class families.
On Thursday, the Chairman launched a toll free number for students and parents to call and lodge complaints against institutions that are flouting the cap orders on fee. Calling education “non-commercial”, Kantha Rao assured strict action against these institutions.
It is interesting to note that AP has not had a regulator for fees in private educational institutions, until the APSERMC was formed last year. It had asked institutions to cut school tuition fee by 30 per cent for the previous academic year.
The Commission had reportedly inspected institutions last year to ensure they have been complying with the orders. This time, the Commission released a detailed structure for maximum annual school fee at Panchayat, Municipal and Municipal Corporation levels, as well as fee for private junior colleges. The toll free number is 9150381111 and will be functional from 10 am to 5 pm.
Other states have also been capping tuition fee in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of educational institutions. With parents struggling with a beseeched economy, and classes moving online, some state governments have felt the need to ensure excess fee isn’t being charged from parents. The Tamil Nadu government for example, set up an email ID (email@example.com) where parents and students can lodge complaint against institutions that don’t comply with its order to collect only 75 per cent of the fee this year.
The Telangana government had issued an order last year prohibiting private schools from hiking fee, or collecting any other fee apart from the monthly tuition. However, there were complaints of schools clubbing all extra charges as part of the monthly tuition and taking it nonetheless. This year also the TS government has asked all private schools including CBSE, ICSE and international board schools to refrain from hiking the fee for the academic year 2021-22.
In Kerala, the High Court had asked CBSE school to collect fee at a discount, but the government hasn’t come forward to impose any further regulations in fee structures in the state. Today in Karnataka where schools have already reopened, there is an ongoing battle between the state government and the parents who are demanding the formation of a committee along the lines of the APSERMC to monitor fee structures and collection in schools. Rajasthan’s issue with school fee was sorted by the Supreme Court who passed an order to slash school fee in private schools by 15 per cent, and Maharashtra chose to follow that example too.