The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Control bug stirs in state

Calcutta, Nov. 20: The Bengal government is set to try and establish control over Anglo-Indian schools in the wake of the Supreme Court order three weeks ago on minority educational institutions.

School education minister Kanti Biswas said a section of English medium schools was charging exorbitant tuition and other fees and depriving teachers by not paying them deserved salaries.

“We will have to find out a way to put an end to this practice,” Biswas said.

This is the first time the government has said in public that it would interfere in the internal matters of state-aided minority educational institutions — Anglo-Indian schools fall in this category — as endorsed by the Supreme Court last month.

An 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court had said that states could interfere through “regulatory measures” in aided as well as unaided minority institutions for the sake of “educational excellence”.

“We will go through the Supreme Court order in detail and see what exactly it says,” Biswas said.

He added that the government was also holding talks with other state administrations to find out what they were planning to do.

“This is exactly what we were anticipating after the Supreme Court gave its verdict. It will be difficult for us to maintain high academic standards if the government starts interfering in our internal matters,” said a principal of an Anglo-Indian school in south Calcutta.

After the verdict, the administrative heads of Anglo-Indian schools had held meetings to discuss the possible fallout. Some of them even suggested that the schools refuse the dearness allowance they take from the government to escape its interference.

But education sources pointed out that it would be difficult to slip out of the government’s grasp as the court order does not keep even unaided institutions completely out of official reach.

They said the revision of tuition fees charged by Anglo- Indian schools in the beginning of the academic session in April had become a matter of concern for the state government. The fees were stepped up after the government slashed the dearness allowance it pays to Anglo-Indian schools from 132 to 41 per cent.

In order to cover the deficit, the schools increased the fees by at least Rs 300 per month per student, triggering protests by guardians’ forums which submitted a number of memoranda to the government.

But the government could not intervene then because the running of Anglo-Indian schools is protected by the Constitution.

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