Punjab becomes latest state to curb fee hikes in private schools

The rules would cap the annual fee hike by private schools at 8% of the previous year’s fee, says Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal


Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: The Punjab government Wednesday capped the rate of annual fee hike in private schools, joining several other states which have already moved in this direction.

The cabinet approved the Punjab State Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions Rules, 2017 initiated by the previous government.

“The Punjab government on Wednesday paved the way for rationalization of fees in private schools...,” a government statement said.

Raveen Thukral, media adviser to chief minister Amarinder Singh, said the government took the call as it received “a lot of complaints from the parents”. He said there were “agitations across the state demanding regulation of fee structure as the (private) schools were resorting to steep hikes. The decision has been taken to benefit students and families.” The rule will be applicable with immediate effect.

“The rules would cap the annual fee hike by private schools at 8% of the previous year’s fee,” state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said in the statement.

As per the rules, “all other funds charged by the schools would also be covered by these rules”.

The Punjab initiative comes even as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Delhi are either contemplating or have already moved to curb the unchecked rise in private school fees.

Many private schools which charge steeply have stepped in to address the quality gap left by government schools. The exorbitant fees charged by private schools, sometimes going as high as Rs15 lakh per annum, have drawn comparisons with the fees at premier medical or engineering schools.

Gujarat has already passed a bill limiting private school fees. The annual fee structure underlined in the new law for primary, secondary and higher-secondary schools is Rs15,000, Rs25,000 and Rs27,000 respectively. Schools wishing to charge more must approach the fee regulatory committee.

Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are contemplating similar moves and some of them are already looking at the Gujarat law as a model, Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said earlier this week on the sidelines of an education event. The HRD ministry too is looking at the bill, but Javadekar refrained from commenting whether his ministry will adopt the same.

Earlier this year, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi too rejected requests from many private schools built on government land to hike fees from the 2017-18 academic year.

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