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Deep divide over DA in schools
- Majority keen on govt grant

A split is showing in the ranks of Anglo-Indian schools over availing of the contentious dearness allowance (DA) from the state government.

That there is a deep divide over DA became apparent on Monday with the majority of 67 such schools indicating they would continue taking DA support till the government’s intentions became clearer, in light of the recent Supreme Court judgment on minority schools.

“We will wait till we get a clearer picture of the kind of regulatory measures it will impose if we take DA from it,” said C.R. Gasper, president, Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools in West Bengal, and principal of St Augustine Day School. The Association will meet on February 14 to discuss, among other things, the DA issue.

But following the recent Supreme Court directive that allows the government a larger say in the affairs of minority schools availing of the allowance, a few prominent institutions have decided not to take funds from the government on this count.

They fear this will give the government the chance to interfere in certain functions of the institutions, including recruitment and admission. These schools have already written to the school education department, conveying their reluctance to accept the DA from the next financial year.

The possibility of government interference in the wake of the apex court order has not, however, stopped several Anglo-Indian schools from leaning towards the government DA grant.

“We don’t want to take a hasty decision on the issue and stop taking the DA, since such a measure will lead to another hike in tuition fees. This will create more pressure on the guardians,” said the principal of an Anglo-Indian school in central Calcutta.

Sources in the schools wanting to continue with the DA confirmed they would have to raise the monthly tuition fees by “at least Rs 50 a month” if they they stopped accepting the government grant to pay their teachers’ allowance.

Almost all 67 Anglo-Indian schools had recently effected a steep hike in tuition fees, after the government slashed their DA grants, on which it spends nearly Rs 35 crore a year.

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