Calcutta, Sept. 19: The state government has decided to ask private schools to furnish details of their accounts to stop them from indiscriminately hiking fees.
Although all private schools will be required to reveal the data, the government’s focus is on English-medium institutions as they have been frequently accused of raising fees arbitrarily.
The state education department will soon send a circular to nearly 500 private English-medium schools — both unaided and partially aided (those getting dearness allowance) — telling them that it will be binding on them to provide details of their financial data (income and expenditure) whenever asked by the government.
The government can take legal action if the schools fail to reveal the figures.
Currently, private schools are required to inform the government about internal matters such as enrolment, admission procedures, syllabus, fee structures, teacher-recruitment procedure and pay scales of teaching and non-teaching staff.
The government has the power to de-affiliate schools if they don’t reveal the details but it refrains from doing so as the punishment would hurt the students.
However, schools are not bound to show their balance sheets to the government.
“The government may now ask any private English-medium school to show the details of their accounts. The existing schools will soon be informed about the new rule,” Amiya Ranjan Sanyal, the deputy director for “Anglo-Indian” schools, said.
Upcoming schools will have to give an undertaking to the government that they will reveal their financial data to the government whenever asked. The government will introduce a clause in the application forms for no-objection certificates to new schools, making it mandatory for them to submit the undertaking.
“From now on, the no-objection certificates will not be issued if the new institutions do not give the undertaking,” an education department official said.
There has been a series of agitations by parents at several English-medium schools since 2009 after the institutions increased tuition and other fees by 75 to 110 per cent.
Schools such as Don Bosco, Liluah, St Anthony School, St Teresa School, St Loyola School and St Aloysius School have witnessed protests by parents who have accused the authorities of financial mismanagement.
In 2009, the education department issued circulars to the schools, requesting them to hike fees judiciously.
“This is the first time that the schools will be compulsorily required to produce the details of their financial data,” the official said.
He said the move was in keeping with a code of regulations the government had framed in the mid-1990s for the running of private schools. One of the provisions mentioned in the code empowers the government to ask private schools for any data.
The official said the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act makes it mandatory for all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for poor children.
“To make up for losses suffered in providing free education to poor students, the schools may hike the tuition fees for the remaining 75 per cent students. The government’s move is also aimed at addressing this issue,” the official said.
However, the authorities of several private English-medium schools said the government was infringing on their rights by making it mandatory for them to reveal their financial data.
“How can the government compel us to show our balance sheets? We do not take a single paisa from the government to run our schools. We will oppose the decision and if necessary, we will challenge the move at a proper forum,” said Nabarun Dey, the principal of Central Modern School and general secretary of the Association of ICSE Schools.