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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Now, private schools under CAG scanner

TNN 31 July 2009, 11:52pm IST
NEW DELHI: If it was tough for you to figure out those hidden charges under the guise of charges for development, building, swimming pool and library in your child's school fee bill, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) will now demystify it for you. On Friday, CAG said it has decided to audit accounts of unaided private schools of Delhi. The parents in Delhi who took to the streets after the recent steep fee hike by schools in the name of Sixth Pay Commission are sure to rejoice over the CAG decision. The powerful private school lobby in the Capital is, however, bound to resist it. This year accounts of only 25 schools will be taken up for review and in the next round more schools will be subjected to the audit which will be cyclical in nature. The audit will look into land use by schools, examine their fee structure and also ascertain if they cater to poor children or not as prescribed by Delhi School Education Act, 1973. The decision, CAG said, has been taken under the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973, and the Delhi High Court order in Delhi Abhibhawak Mahasangh vs Union of India case. Delhi HC had said that "inspection of schools, audit of accounts and compliance with provisions of the Act and rules by private recognised unaided schools could have prevented the present state of affairs. The tution fee cannot be fixed to recover capital expenditure to be incurred on the properties of the society.'' Apart from the HC order, CAG cited provisions of Delhi School Education Act and said the law mandates it to audit accounts. DSEA says the managing committee of every recognised private school shall file audited financial and other returns with the director. The rules under DSEA Act also make it compulsory for schools to maintain accounts of fees and contributions collected by it as per government rules. Another rule says the accounts can be audited by auditors authorised by the director and also by officers authorised by the CAG. Delhi HC had in its order said the question of commercialisation of education and exploitation of parents by individual schools could be authoritatively determined on thorough examination of the accounts and other records of each school.