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Fee papers in parents’ hands

Siliguri, Jan, 25: The Guardians’ Forum of North Bengal today produced two documents to buttress its point that the fee hike in five English-medium schools was not rational.

“We have with us the provident fund challans, that is, the slips indicating the PF deposited by the school authorities for their teachers,” said Sandeepan Bhattacharjee, the president of the forum which has been spearheading a movement against increased fees in schools. “According to these challans — which mentions the gross emoluments of the entire teaching staff of the school — there is hardly any difference in the emoluments of March and April, although the institutions have repeatedly claimed that they have revised the teachers’ salaries from April 1 in accordance with pay commission recommendations.”

The five schools are Don Bosco School, St Joseph’s High School Matigara, New St John’s High School, Nirmala Convent and Auxilium Convent.

The gross emoluments, which include basic pay, dearness allowance and other constituents of salaries, of 61 teachers of Don Bosco School for March 2009 were Rs 3,92,613. In April 2009, it was Rs 4,21,500 for 65 teachers, Bhattacharjee said. “The average salary of a teacher in March was Rs 6,436.27 while in April it was Rs 6,484.61. There was a hike of only Rs 48, if we take into account the school’s claim that pay was revised from April 1. However, in government-aided schools, a teacher draws more than double the amount.”

The PF challans of St Joseph’s High School showed that the average salary of a teacher in April was Rs 6,441.67.

“The principal of Don Bosco said in a circular in May that they were forced to increase the fees because of the salary hike of teachers,” Bhattacharjee said. “If we consider the institutions to be non-profit organisations, the average fees of Don Bosco and St Joseph’s should be around Rs 300 to Rs 350. But they are charging Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,300 from a student.”

The forum also produced no-objection certificates (NOC) issued by the state education department to these schools. Institutions seeking affiliations from boards or councils other that the state board have to obtain the NOC from the government.

According to the NOCs, these schools cannot go for a fee hike without prior intimation to the state government. “These schools should pay its teachers on par with the teachers of government-aided schools. Violation of these clauses (fee hike or payment) shall lead to withdrawal of the NOC from the subsequent academic year,” Bhattacharjee said. “We are sending the documents to the principal secretary of state school education department, seeking their intervention.”

Father M.A. Joseph, the principal of Don Bosco, said: “We suspect they are furnishing some backdated PF challans. I would like to iterate that the salaries have been increased on and from April 1 and fixed on par with the scales recommended by the pay commission.”

An official of the education department in Calcutta admitted that clauses mentioned by the forum do exist in the NOC “But as these are not supported by any legislation, we have limited scope to take step against schools if they do not comply with them,” he said.

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