CUTTACK: The State government on Wednesday told the Orissa High Court that it has no mechanism for fixation of fees for unaided private schools. Such schools decide their fee structure as per decision of their management committees which has representation from parents’ side.
In an affidavit filed in response to multiple PILs seeking waiver of fees of students of private schools due to the pandemic, the Additional Secretary, School and Mass Education (SME) department, Alok Kumar Kar submitted, despite Odisha having a large number of government schools, many parents preferred to send their children to private institutions. “The parents have opted to admit their wards in private unaided schools for other additional facilities/services like medium of instruction, extra coaching, coaching for competitive examinations, etc.,” the affidavit stated.
Kar also stated, the government has also not taken any policy decision as regards to waiver or reduction of school fees for the lockdown period in the light of the decision taken by different stakeholders during mediation by the Principal Secretary, SME department in September this year.
An MoU was signed on the basis of near unanimous agreement arrived after thorough discussion with all the stakeholders then. “The contents of the MoU is in the knowledge of government and if the same is given effect to, it will assuage the difficulties being faced by the parents whose income has been adversely affected during this pandemic”, Kar, however, clarified in the affidavit.
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Biswanath Rath adjourned the hearing to December 7 after the government submitted the affidavit making its stance clear on the issue. The PILs were filed by Odisha Abhibhabak Mahasangha, Md Mustaq and Prahallad Rout.
The State government had earlier filed an affidavit urging the court to endorse the MoU signed by all the stakeholders. Following the mediation, 14 participating members had agreed to waiver of fees on a flat rate.
According to the MoU, the flat rate included waiver of 26 per cent (pc) for school fees above Rs 1 lakh per annum, 25 pc for school fees from Rs 72,001 to Rs 1 lakh per annum, 20 pc for school fees from Rs 48,001 to Rs 72,000 per annum, 15 pc for school fees from Rs 24,001 to Rs 48,000 per annum, 12 pc for school fees from Rs 12,001 to Rs 24,000 per annum and 7.5 pc for the fee range between Rs 6,001 and Rs 12,000 per annum. No waiver has been agreed for school fees up to Rs 6,000.