The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government is all set to change the education policy in the national capital.
But it's the private schools in the city that will bear the brunt of the proposed changes to the Delhi School Education Amendment Act. If the changes are implemented, the state government will soon have a major hold over the admission process in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category in the private schools.
Under the new amendment to the Act, the state government will have the power to decide the nursery admission guidelines. Also, under the proposed changes, no school will be allowed to charge any capitation fee (directly or indirectly) from the students. The screening process will also be done away with. The proposals and amendments will be presented in the Assembly Session starting Wednesday. The state government will soon come out with a centralised portal on EWS admissions in which the children would be selected by the government on a lottery basis and directly allotted to the schools.
"If any school is found flouting the guidelines, it shall be punishable with a fine of up to 10 times the capitation fee, or Rs 5 lakh, whichever is more. Similarly, screening of the students will be punishable with a fine of Rs 5 lakh for the first contravention and Rs 10 lakh for each subsequent ones," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Tuesday.
Discussing the new plans and the amendments to the existing education bills, the government is planning to get rid of Sector 10 (1) of the Delhi School Education Act and Rules (1973) (DSEAR), which requires private schools to pay teachers on a par with the government ones. Though details of the amendments are still to be finalised, the state government said, "The fee will be paid as prescribed." The initial plan suggests that every teacher will anyhow get the minimum wage, and the ratio of school's income and teachers' salary is yet to be decided. "We are working on the plan. Give us 15 days more and we will have a clear view of the entire plan. What we have projected so far is that the ratio will come around to 45-50 per cent," Punya Salila Srivastava, Secretary, education, said.
Besides, the state government has also set up a committee to look into the financial accounts of the private schools. The committee, which will be headed by a retired judge and various chartered accountants, will be roped in to monitor the accounts. As per the plan, every accountant will undertake 4-5 schools to conduct an audit.
"It has been observed that several schools charge exorbitant fees and siphon it off for other purposes, say by giving loans to a trust at zero per cent interest or produce fake bills. This will now be looked into by a committee. If the panel finds any irregularity, it can direct the school to either refund the money or reduce the fees the next year," Kejriwal said. Erring schools may attract hefty fines and repeat offenders may even be imprisoned for 3-5 years. The details of the school accounts and proposed fee structures will be uploaded online by the Directorate of education. "This will ensure better transparency. Parents can actually match the fee structure and check if what they are paying is exactly the same as reported by the schools to the government. Our aim is not to interfere in the private school education system," he said.
However, all the decisions and proposed amendments to the education policy have not gone down well with the experts. Some have raised fingers on the state government's decision to manage the accounts of the school and the refunding of the fee.
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