The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rethink over rein-in bill
- Legal row risk shelves school monitor legislation

The state government is now in two minds over its decision to enact a law to regulate ICSE and CBSE schools.

Before pushing through the piece of legislation, the education department wants to ensure it does not get bogged down in legal complications, forcing a back-out.

An earlier bill that sought to make it mandatory for state-aided minority institutions to recruit teachers through the school service commission had left the government red in the face.

The law department has advised the government to examine all aspects of the bill seeking to empower the government to keep a tab on private schools and intervene if there is any violation of rules or norms, before tabling it in the Assembly.

“This bill is sensitive, as it speaks of penal action against schools run by private bodies, including the Christian missionaries. We cannot table it before ensuring that there would be no legal complications,” said S. Mahapatra, joint secretary in the school education department.

He, however, clarified that the government has no plans to impose curbs on ICSE and CBSE schools. “We want to monitor their functioning, so they do not go against their stated policies.”

The education department, Mahapatra added, often receives complaints that some of the schools are charging high tuition fees, but are not offering students commensurate facilities. “A section of the teachers has complained that the managements are not paying salaries they had promised at the time of appointment. We want to stop these irregularities.”

The government’s caution on tabling the bill stems from the embarrassment it had faced over the School Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2006. Soon after it was passed in the Assembly in February, over 700 state-aided Christian schools rallied against the government, demanding its withdrawal. The state had to bow to the pressure and scrap the bill in July.

“We don’t want a repeat of the row,” said an official.

The decision to formulate an act to regulate ICSE and CBSE schools followed a recommendation by a 13-member panel, set up last year to suggest ways to rein in errant institutions.

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