Srinagar: The Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) on Friday rejected the new rules notified by the J&K government for governing the functioning of the private educational institutions.
The move comes a day after the J&K government notified new fee rules for aided and unaided private schools of Jammu and Kashmir to bring them under an appropriate regulatory framework.
The rules were notified by the J&K Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha in the exercise of the powers conferred on him under section 29, read with sections 20A, 20B and 20C of the Jammu and Kashmir School Education Act 2002, according to the official notification.
President PSAJK, G N Var while addressing a press conference rejected the new fees rules and said the series of new government orders issued by the government have effectively “snatched away the autonomy of private schools and brought them near to mass closure.”
“We believe that this all is being done to demolish all small and big private schools in Kashmir,” Var said.
He said the government was using different means to crush private schools.
“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,” Var said.
He said the government has fixed the same yardsticks for all categories of schools while issuing orders with regard to the school fees which has adversely affected the low budget schools in J&K.
“It is unfortunate that the government has increased the number of NoCs to be obtained by schools to get an extension in affiliation or registration. Such things are not happenings in other states but only in J&K,” Var said.
He said either the government of India should implement similar rules or laws for private schools in other states or the government of J&K should implement laws of other states like Gujarat and Maharashtra for the functioning of private schools in J&K.
“The way we are being asked to obtain NoCs from a different departments, it is not happening anywhere in the country. The powers given to our fee fixation committee has not been done in any other state,” Var said.
Questioning the government for its step-motherly treatment with the private education sector, Var said no stakeholders are taken on board before issuing orders which are aimed to crush the private education sector in J&K.
“The government is setting up a control mechanism without considering the quality education of schools. The government is aware of the rising dropout rate of students and decrease in the literacy rate but they are still putting private sector in stress,” he said.
President PSAJK said the government has disempowered all private schools and entrusted the Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) with sweeping powers to determine fees for every school and impose heavy penalties
“This is a bizarre order. Schools are providing services 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 a different set of facilities, teaching aids, logistics, skilled manpower,” he said.
He said the school fee was a major incentive to upgrade facilities for a school and enhance the 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. Var said since the inception of the FFRC, the committee members did not visit any private school to get a firsthand account of the overall scenario.
“Unfortunately, as per the new rules the FFRC while being confined to its office will determine the fee for thousands of schools whom it has never visited,” he said.
The association president 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. Var said they have started an awareness campaign by reaching out to all vice-chancellors, educationists, parents and other stakeholders of J&K for help to save the education sector in J&K.
“We will suspend academic activities in schools and make aware students about why the education sector is being targeted in J&K,” he said.