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Verdict push to school fees

Calcutta, Nov. 5: Parents of students enrolled in Anglo-Indian schools in and outside Calcutta may have to bear with a fresh round of increase in tuition fees.

The hike, after the last one only months ago, could well be one of the unintended ripple effects of last week’s Supreme Court judgment that upheld the right of the state to interfere through “regulatory measures” even in unaided “minority” institutions.

After the verdict, these schools are now thinking of shunning the dearness-allowance grant they get from the state government. If they go ahead with the idea they are now “actively” considering, a further hike in the fees will become inevitable.

The schools that only take employees’ dearness allowance from the government are, strictly speaking, not state-aided institutions. But they want to stop taking the allowance to ensure there is “absolutely no confusion” in the matter.

“On the face of it, the 67 Anglo-Indian schools do not fall within the state-aided category just because they take their employees’ dearness allowance from the state government,” C.R. Gasper, chief of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools in West Bengal, said.

“But the schools may not accept the dearness allowance from now so that there is clear evidence that they are not in the category of state-aided institutions.”

Principals of several schools said legal opinion will be sought before arriving at any decision.

Tuition fees in Anglo-Indian schools were recently raised after the state government slashed dearness-allowance grants from 132 to 41 per cent. Officials indicated that things might become more difficult.

The principal of a top-bracket south Calcutta institution admitted that the schools will “necessarily have to increase their tuition and other fees” if they give up their dearness-allowance grants.

“There is no other way the schools can make up for the consequent shortage and neither can schools afford to compromise on the quality they have maintained for so many years,” she explained.

The matter came up for an informal discussion among principals of the 67 schools a day after the Supreme Court verdict that could have “far-reaching effects”, said Welland Gouldsmith principal and lone Anglo-Indian MLA Gilian D’Costa Hart.

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