After bringing the West Bengal Clinical Establishments Registration, Regulation And Transparency Bill, 2017, to curb overcharging by private hospitals and nursing homes, the Mamata Banerjee government is framing a legislation to check the ever increasing fees and donations sought by private schools and colleges.
The bill, expected to be passed in the next assembly session, will give the government power to penalise private schools and colleges for demanding hefty fees.
The Delhi government has already put in place a policy to keep tabs on fees and donations demanded by private schools and colleges, while Karnataka is in the process of framing such a policy.
In West Bengal presently, the government can cancel the licences of private schools and colleges for indulging in malpractices, but it does not have any power to penalise them for demanding exorbitant fees and donations.
According to senior state officials, many private schools have been found to “designate particular shops from where the students must get their uniforms, shoes and other school accessories”, and the proposed bill seeks to check this practice as well.
There will be a provision to also penalise schools and colleges which do not return the “caution money” taken from the students at the time of admission.
The officials said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will soon meet with the administrators of various private schools and colleges to find out why they increase their fees and donations often.
While several educationists and parents welcomed the decision, saying it would deter private schools and colleges from charging exorbitant fees and donations, the school administrators argued that they generally charge extra fees to improve their infrastructure, which only benefits the students.
Indranath Guha, the rector of Garden High School in Kolkata, said, “Private schools and colleges generally increase the fees for improving infrastructure. If there are allegations against certain schools and colleges that teachers are taking commissions by increasing the fees, income tax officials should look into the matter. Why is the state government intervening in the matter?”