Work on the draft bill for amending Delhi School Education Act and Rules 1973 (DSEAR) is still in progress. The government is considering changes that will introduce ‘checks and balances’ requiring private, unaided schools to post their financial statements on their websites. The Directorate of Education (DoE) will also publish the returns schools file with it every year.
However, it is unlikely that the bill will be tabled in the budget session.
This provision is meant to create checks and balances for transparency in the financial dealings of schools, but it will raise the hackles of schools.
In 2010, Central Information Commission had directed DoE to “upload on its website all the information contained in Annexure-II of the annual returns filed till date by private, unaided schools along with the list of schools which have defaulted in filing the said returns.” DoE was also directed to ensure that such information was posted by August 31 every year from 2011 onwards. With regard to aided schools, the order said DoE should upload details of their budgetary allocation and management. However, public schools managed to get a stay in January 2011 by Delhi high court against this order.
The draft, as it appears on the DoE website, has already been rejected by school associations. A document by the Action Committee for Unaided Recognized Private Schools, states, “The autonomy and constitutional rights of unaided recognized schools will be fully compromised and destroyed resulting in complete demoralization in the school education system.” Quoting from Supreme Court judgments from 2002, they state, “The SC has recognized the right of the private schools to have maximum autonomy in the admissions as also to fix fee structure.”
“Punishing members of the school management with imprisonment up to seven years for violations is too harsh a step that will “expose private schools to continuous harassment and unwarranted scrutiny. The provision for a minimum punishment of three years in all cases bears no logical relation to the purpose of the Act, except to achieve the purpose of intimidating or coercing the schools to toe the directions of the government”, the document says further.
It may be mentioned that the Delhi government has been thinking of introducing changes into DSEAR. The new changes in this act may bring down the high fee amounts which are charged by the private schools. The DoE encouraged the people to give their comments over the amendments in the Delhi Education Act and Rules, 1973. A circular was posted on the department’s website regarding this issue. June 15 was the last date for sending in comments and suggestions.