Congress workers demonstrate outside the state HRD department in Ranchi on Tuesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
State HRD minister Geetashree Oroan on Tuesday sought to tighten the noose around private schools, handing them a to-do list that includes everything from submitting audit reports to overhauling buses and ordering formation of committees in all districts for receiving complaints against the cradles.
Geetashree, who had earlier taken everyone by surprise by inspecting school buses at Lalpur Chowk in Ranchi on May 5, held a meeting with the authorities of 24 schools at her Dhurwa office on Tuesday.
Asking the representatives to usher in transparency in their governance, the minister sought audited financial reports within seven days. She also asked them to provide status reports of implementation of Right to Education Act, which makes it mandatory for all private schools to admit BPL students residing within a 2km periphery.
On school buses that she had found “inhumanly” overcrowded during her May 5 inspection, Geetashree, also the Congress Sisai MLA, said the schools must make proper arrangements to ensure that each student gets a seat. She pointed out that school buses ought to be properly maintained as the state government offered them 50 per cent relaxation on road taxes.
The minister also raised objections to private schools charging admission fees when students get promoted to the next class every year.
“This is wrong,” Geetashree is believed to have said.
Not done, she asked HRD officials present at the meeting to initiate the process to constitute a committee in each district for receiving complaints against the schools. The committee will have deputy commissioner as chairman, district superintendent of education as member secretary, district transport officer, principal of a reputable school and parents’ representative as members.
“The purpose of the meeting was to give a strong message to schools so that they do not force out money from parents and give poor salary to teachers,” director (primary education) Jeetvahan Oroan said.
Some of the schools that sent representatives were Kairali Public School, Oxford Public School, DAV-Bariatu, DAV-Kadru, Surendranath Centenary School and Bishop Westcott (Boys).
Principal of Kairali Public School Rajan Varghese later said: “We also shared our problems. Ultimately, the decision to form the committee was taken,” Varghese added.
While the meeting was on, a section of Congress members, including ward councillors Lakshman Kachhap and Gulam Sarwar and state party working committee member Alok Dubey, demonstrated outside in protest against private schools. They left after coming to know about the developments.