Srinagar: Complaints continue to pour in against private schools in Valley for resorting to alleged illegal profiteering amid the reopening of the schools post winter vacations.
Amid the complaints, the government has rendered the Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) defunct as it continues to remain headless for around four months now.
The committee is headless at a time when the private schools are likely to complete the admission process for the kindergarten classes and charge capitation fees besides other fees from the parents. The donation and the annual charge is collected by the schools as per sweet will, leaving the parents at the receiving end.
The Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) has been rendered headless after the tenure of its chairman ended on November 13 this year.
The government on November 9, 2020, had appointed Justice (Retd) Muzaffar Hussain Attar as Chairman FFRC for a period of two years.
The appointment came into effect from the date on which the chairman assumed the charge of the post in the committee.
Amid the delay in appointing a new FFRC chairman, the stakeholders have expressed concern over the government’s move to leave the fee panel
“Leaving the panel headless at this crucial time has left the parents helpless. We don’t know whom to approach with our grievances at this time. The
government should have appointed a new chairman immediately after the tenure of the former chairman expired,” said Abdul Rashid, a parent from Srinagar.
Another parent said that the private schools have started charging tuition for January, February and March months from the outgoing class 10th and 12th students.
“I do not understand on what grounds the school is charging fees for January, February and March when the students have technically left the school. They have to appear only in annual exams,” the parent said.
“The schools are misleading the parents saying that the fees have to be paid due to change in the session,” he said.
Notably, the government shifted the academic session from November to March from the current year and the schools, according to parents, are taking undue advantage of the decision by confusing the parents.
“The irony is that we have no one to listen to our grievances. FFRC is headless. We have registered our grievance with the LG’s Grievance cell. But they will also forward it to FFRC which is presently defunct,” the parent said.
The parents said the private schools registered up to class 10th and those registered up to class 12th are seeking fees from the outgoing students illogically.
“They are openly looting the students by charging the fees for these months which amounts to around Rs 10,000 to 18,000 per student,” the parent said.
While there is no headway in appointment of new chairman for FFRC, the schools are mulling to hike the fees for the current academic session, leaving the parents aghast.
“How long we will wait for the government to appoint a new chairman. Keeping in view the commencement of the new academic session, the fee panel should not have been rendered defunct. We will hike our fee this year as well,” a school functionary told Greater Kashmir. “The hike in fees is given to enhance the salary of the teachers and other staff as well,” he said.
Recently, the Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) issued directions to all of its member schools to cap any fee hike at a maximum of 10 percent.
“The condition will be subject to new directions of the Fee Fixation Committee which is currently headless,” Chairman PSAJK G N Var in a statement said.
He said they were forced to take the decision after some parents complained that some schools have increased the fee by a substantial amount thus affecting the students.
“The entire situation has arisen due to non-functioning of the Fee Fixation Committee. The fee panel is headless for the last three months and this has led to utter confusion everywhere,” Var said.
However, the parents have opposed the PSAJK statement saying that there should be no hike in the school fees unless it is approved by the FFRC.
The advisor to J&K Lieutenant Governor Rajiv Rai Batnagar when contacted said he will examine the issue. “I will check the progress with regard to the appointment of new chairman FFRC,” he told Greater Kashmir.