The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Inflation defence for school fee hike

Calcutta, July 14: The government today told the Assembly fees in secondary and higher secondary schools will be hiked.

School education minister Kanti Biswas today said there was no alternative but to increase the fees as the cost of living had gone up several times since 1992. “We had revised fees in secondary and higher secondary schools for the last time in 1992. Since then, prices of essential commodities have increased and the government is financially not equipped to run the schools with the old fee structure,” Biswas said during a discussion on the education budget.

Biswas did not clarify by how much the fees will be raised and from when the new fee structure will be implemented. Education up to the level of Class XII is free in the state.

The first Left Front government had made school education free when it came to power in 1977. The government had revised admission, development and other fees in schools once earlier but tuition fees were not imposed.

Debaprasad Sarkar of the SUCI alleged that several schools were charging exorbitant fees from students seeking admission. “These schools are violating the rate fixed by the government regarding collection of fees,” Sarkar alleged while taking part in the discussion.

Biswas asked Sarkar to give him a list of such schools and “we will cancel their affiliation once the charges are proved”.

Higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty said at least 17 engineering colleges in Karnataka were facing closure as they were not getting adequate students. “These colleges were mostly dependent on Bengal as thousands of students from here used to go to Karnataka to study engineering. Now we have set up 38 private engineering colleges, which are accommodating most of the students,” he said.

Chakraborty refuted the charge that the government was privatising education. “We are encouraging self-financing institutes and we are bound to do this as we are still under a capitalist setup,” he said.

Earlier, there were only 1,400 seats in government-run engineering colleges in the state. “Now 13,000 students can study. Don’t you think it a great achievement of our government'”

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