Education minister Bratya Basu told the Assembly on Tuesday that the state government would set up a commission to look into complaints against private schools about fee hikes, on the lines of the health commission that hears complaints against private hospitals.
“We will set up an education commission which will work on the lines of the health commission. This has already been approved by the cabinet and we will issue the notification in a few days,” Basu said during a question-answer session in the House.
“We cannot directly control private schools. However, we receive complaints of unjust fee hikes and hence this commission is being set up for the sake of the people.”
A retired judge will head the commission, the education minister said on the floor of the House.
Earlier, the minister had said such a commission was at a “planning stage” and the details would emerge in due course.
Sujoy Biswas, principal of Rammohan Mission High School, said: “We apprehend the commission will end up working as an overarching body, seeking to regulate affairs of the private schools.”
He added: “I will iterate that when guardians admit their sons or daughters in private schools, they make a decision after going through the fee structure. And it is still not clear to me why the government is thinking of yet another commission.”
Biswas had earlier told The Telegraph “too much control will destroy the standard of education”.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had told the Assembly in March 2017 that there was “a need to do something to control private schools”. The education department, then headed by minister Partha Chatterjee, had constituted a regulatory commission after that.
Apart from holding some meetings with the private schools, the regulatory commission did not do much.
In recent times, the education department has been at loggerheads with private schools over the holiday calendar. The government had forced the schools to follow its directive to start the summer recess early this year.
When the government went on to extend the vacation further, several private schools defied that decision and resumed in-person classes.
Many schools feel a commission to look into the complaints from parents about fees is “an interference” in the running of a private school.
“If the school fees are fixed by the commission, it would amount to interference,” said the head of a CBSE school.
The school head also said people rushed with complaints to the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission and it could be the same for the school commission as well.
“It is a service industry and we cannot please everyone,” the school head said.
Principals are also of the opinion that all private schools cannot have the same parameters.
“Different private schools provide different facilities and how can the same parameters be applicable to all,” said Seema Sapru, principal of The Heritage School.