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Schools should charge fees proportionate to the grades completed: Kerala child rights panel

The petitioner said her child was not allowed to attend the online class by the school.

The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has said that if a child discontinues studies midway in a school in the State, the institution should collect only the amount proportionate to the time the child studied there and return the rest from the money charged by it under any head at the time of admission for the period up to the completion of school education.

Acting on a petition from a woman in Thrissur district, the commission of members Fr. Philip Parakatt and K. Nazeer on Thursday directed the Director of General Education, CBSE Regional Officer, and the Chief Executive and Secretary of the CISCE to issue circulars to schools asking them to follow the panel’s direction.

The petitioner said her child had taken admission to LKG in a Thrissur school in 2019-20. When she entered class 1 this year, on the first day of the school year, she was not allowed to attend the online class by the school, much to her mental anguish. When contacted, the school cited a shortfall of ₹1,500 in the fee paid earlier. The petitioner said that in the wake of COVID-19 her husband had lost his job and also suffered an accident, leading to delay in fee payment.

She approached the commission again seeking steps to obtain a transfer certificate for her daughter who did not want to continue in the school and the ₹25,000 paid at the time of school admission.

During an online hearing, the school Principal said that as the petitioner had not collected her child’s progress report, it had been assumed the child would not continue in the school and the online link discontinued. The transfer certificate could be issued immediately, but on the return of ₹25,000, he could not say anything without the directions of the school management.

The commission said that as per Section 5(3) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, if a child seeking admission to another school applied for a transfer certificate, it should be provided without any delay. Accordingly, the Principal should provide the transfer certificate on receiving the petitioner’s application.

The Principal also said the ₹25,000 had been collected under the head of establishment charge and no capitation fee had been charged. Since the school had classes till grade 12, if the child continued to study there, no other establishment charge would have to be paid.

The commission observed that it was clear that ₹25,000 was a stipulated sum for continuing education till class 12. As per Section 13 of the RTE Act, no capitation fee should be collected at the time of school admission. Since the petitioner’s child had only completed UKG, the Principal had no right to collect anything except the amount proportionate to the grades completed, and the rest should be returned to the petitioner.

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