SRINAGAR, May 13: Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) today expressed anguish over the sweeping powers given to the Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC), alleging that the Government was hell-bent to crush the private schools across Kashmir.
A day after the Government issued a notification, empowering J&K FFRC, the PSAJK said that the government has snatched away the autonomy of private schools and brought them near to mass closure, while alleging 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,” PSAJK said.
The Association said that the latest notification issued by the government has disempowered all private schools and entrusted the Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) with sweeping powers to determine the fee for every school and impose heavy penalties.
President of PSAJK, G. N. Var termed the notification as bizarre and said that the 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 a different set of facilities, teaching aids, logistics, skilled manpower etc. The fee is 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,” he said.
The Association said that under the new rules FFRC confined to its office will determine the fee for thousands of schools that it has never visited.
“It is ironical that the said committee right from the date of the constitution has never dared to visit any school. They simply don’t know how a school functions. The government has handed over the future of lakhs of students to a bunch of clerks headed by a chairman,” a school owner said.
PSAJK said that the Government’s education department is on the verge of total collapse, Government Aided Schools like DAV and National School have been taken over directly by the Government.
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 the entire country. “The new order doesn’t distinguish between aided, unaided and trust-based schools and have punctured the narrative of ease of doing business,” PSAJK said.
“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 the case of schools, the government is controlling everything,” Var said.
He said that in such circumstances, “who will dare to invest in the education sector in J&K. If the government has to do everything then they should simply take over everything, why do they need the private sector,” he said.
The Association said that the new notification is also against the Supreme Court observations which have time and again said that the autonomy of private schools should not be infringed upon.
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 to maximize the benefit to schools and students.
“But the government has managed to tie private schools in Red Tapism right up to their neck. They spend months 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,” he said.