In an extraordinary measure, the Director of School Education Dr G N Itoo has suspended the recognition of RP School Mallabagh and Green Valley Educational Institute, Ellahibagh for exorbitant fee hike and non-compliance of orders from the Department. Director School Education has also called for adjusting the enrolled students of these schools in nearby Government schools for ensuing examination. Itoo has also cautioned all the heads of the private institutions not to hike the fee on their own and comply with the instructions and orders from the department, in letter and spirit. Though slammed for being harsh in some quarters, the decision has come as a shot in the arm of the parents who are otherwise largely taken for granted by the management of the private schools and made to pay through their nose. So, the extreme action by the government is certain to lend them some sense of empowerment. And in future they wont find themselves solely at the mercy of the school managements who dont shy away from forcing the parents to pay up the entire fees even in times of disasters like the 2014 deluge. One could hope that the government action reigns in the private schools which have otherwise become a law unto themselves.
Last year, the state governments school fee fixation committee has given a nod to the enhancement of fee structure of private educational institutions by eight percent. The order issued in October last is valid for three years. The decision came after the J&K High Court directed the state government to frame a policy regarding annual fee enhancement. But as the derecognized two schools would have us believe, the governments orders are observed largely in breach. The schools would easily get away with their arbitrary fee hikes, cocking a snook at the government. And parents are in no position to resist this.
But again the people are bound to watch Itoos order with some scepticism. Will the new action succeed where the previous initiatives have failed? Only time will tell. But the outcome of the past interventions should hardly detract from the significance of the fresh measure. Director School Education has the power to get private schools to fall in line. He is in a position to withdraw the recognition should schools refuse to do his bidding as he has now practically demonstrated.
Ideally, the private schools, especially the elite schools, should have taken the lead and in a spirit of mutual understanding worked with the parents to fix a mutually agreed amount of fees. But this isn’t happening. And now the government has taken a note of this arbitrary state of affairs and acted with suspension of the recognition of the two schools. But it needs to follow it up with actions that make a visible difference on the ground. More so, in a situation where private school managements have not been enough socially responsible to act on their own.