Sweeping powers to FFRC over fee fixation

PSAJK anguished over new notification, terms it snatching of autonomy of private schools

“It is violation of SC observation over functioning of unaided schools”

New investments in education sector to come to zero, quality education main causality

Srinagar: Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK has expressed its anguish over a series of new government orders issued by government recently that have effectively snatched away the autonomy of private schools and brought them near to mass closure.
The Association said that there seems to be some kind of ploy to demolish all small and big private schools in Kashmir. “Be it transport issue, order to get NOCs, retrieval of land order which has affected 100’s of community schools, everything is being used to crush private schools. Now the latest government notification S.O 233 dated 10th May,2022 is aimed to target new schools with futuristic vision who have invested huge money in different districts to give quality education to students,” said a spokesperson of PSAJK. “Government’s own education department is on the verge of total collapse, Government Aided Schools like DAV, National School have been taken over directly by the Government and with the result they have almost closed. Now it is clear that the next target is private schools.”

The Association said that the latest notification issued by the government has disempowered all private schools and entrusted Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) with sweeping powers to determine fee for every school and impose heavy penalties. “This is a bizarre order. Schools are providing service and people who do not have an idea of accounts and finance have been given powers to determine how much they can charge. Every school is different with different set of facilities, teaching aids, logistics, skilled manpower etc. Fee is a major incentive to upgrade facilities for a school and enhance quality of education. When fee fixing power is snatched from schools, then why will a school invest and upgrade its facilities,” said G N Var president PSAJK.

The Association said that under the new rules FFRC confined to its office will determine the fee for thousands of schools whom it has never visited. “It is ironical that the said committee right from date of constitution has never dared to visit any school. They simply don’t know how a school functions. How much a school has invested and how much fee is justified. They even don’t have a Chartered Accountant and anybody with financial background. The government has literally handed over future of lakhs of students to a bunch of clerks headed by a chairman,” said a school owner.

The Association said that the reality is that in U T of Jammu and Kashmir private schools have one of the lowest fee structures in entire country. “Here majority of schools are affordable which other schools in the country cannot even be thought of. Our small private schools work day in and out to provide quality education to students on meagre resources,” said Var. “The new order doesn’t distinguish between aided, unaided and trust based schools.
The Association said that the new rules have punctured the narrative of ease of doing business. “We have been hearing of minimal government control on business and people are being invited from the country to invest in J&K. But now in case of schools, government is controlling everything. We have no idea who does it and whether LG Manoj Sinha knows it or he is being misled by bureaucrats. There were some negotiations going on with education industry in country and abroad but they have been demotivated by these latest orders. In such a choking atmosphere created in the name of rule and regulations, who will dare to invest in education sector in J&K. If government has to do everything then they should simply takeover everything, why need of private sector,” said Var.

The Association that the new notification is also against the Supreme Court observations which has time and again said that autonomy of private schools should not be infringed upon. “Here in the name of rules every right of private schools is being violated and snatched brazenly by few bureaucrats who are neither academicians nor educationists,” said a spokesperson of PSAJK.

The Association said that currently the Schools and Government should have been working hand in hand to see how best New Education Policy (NEP) can be implemented so as to maximize the benefit to schools and students. “But the government has managed to tie private schools in Red Tapism right upto their neck. They spend months in getting NOCs and following ever changing guidelines. Private Schools don’t have a breathing space and ultimately it is the loss of a poor student who had joined schools after two years of lockdown. Government should have handheld the private schools and helped them in getting out of their difficult financial condition but in reality they are doing the opposite,” said Var. “If this situation remains as such we fear hundreds of private schools will be closed down in near future.”

The Association termed it life and death situation for private schools. It has requested all J&K political parties to rise above partisan politics and see education as the only tool for peace and development and save the education sector from the Babus
We have started an awareness campaign by reaching out to all vice chancellors, educationists, parents and other stakeholders of J&K. We will be reaching out to educationists outside J&K for help to save education sector in J&K. Committees would be formed to create awareness in parents,” a spokesperson of PSAJK said.
A weeklong exercise will be started suspending the academic activities in schools and awareness created in school students about why education sector is being targeted in J&K.
If Government will not take private schools onboard we will be forced to take some tough measures, said Var

Srinagar News

Srinagar News is one of the oldest newspaper in kashmir it was founded by Late Mehraj-ud-Din Wani Sahab in 1975.

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