The Union Government has made up its mind of bringing the Private Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fee), Bill 2005. Its main objective is to curtail the autonomy currently enjoyed by these private and professional institutes. The ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has stirred up a debate by drafting the said bill.
The Bill broadly deals with such issues as regulating the admission and fixing the fee, which primarily lies with the institution itself. Further, it is of the view that a retired Vice-Chancellor, who will be assisted by two experts, should head the decision-making authority. Therefore, the question of fixing the fees and regulating the admission would be in the hands of the aforesaid body.
Apprehensions are being raised that the Bill would arrest the growth and development of private institutes. By tying their hands the proposed law will lead to decrease the quality output. But it should be remembered that the reputed institutes have not made their names solely on the basis of the fees that they charge, but due to the quality education they impart. Parents if given the option between "less fees-inferior education" and "high fees-quality education", would in most cases prefer the latter.
Resources are needed to excel and impart quality education. This is the reason why exorbitant fees are charged. The Constitution of India is not silent on these aspects. However, going by the Constitution, the courts have maintained that excellence in education and permissible increase in fees, both need to be maintained.
Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution deals with educational rights. The Gujarat High Court in Sidhrajbhai Sabbaj and others vs State of Gujarat (1963) has upheld that regulations are needed to see to it that quality in the form of teachers are not compromised. Also, it gave the view that the infrastructure of an educational institution must follow some minimum level of quality.
In a landmark judgment in Frank Anthony Public Employee Association vs Union of India (1986), the Supreme Court held that the statutory measures regulating terms and conditions of the quality of teachers and employees, which is needed for the purpose of excelling, are not infringement of fundamental rights. The point made in the judgment was that there are enough safeguards to see to it that common people are not exploited on the pretext of giving high quality education.
State level institutions are governed by their respective local laws, which regulate their functioning. So the crucial question is: Why the need of bringing another legislation, whose main aim is to curb the activities of the already curbed private/professional institutes.
When the question of quality education comes, it is not rare to see that more and more of Indian students going abroad for getting education in institutions which are not of a very high repute, but at least provides a minimum level of quality education. Even a poor farmer expects his child to study in reputed college/university. The fee aspect, after all, becomes secondary. Regulations are abounding to control the education system in our country. However, interfering in the core matters of the education institution would rob them of their autonomy.
We are rejoicing over the increasing literacy rate but have we ever observed that how much the word "literate" is limited in our country. For the State the word 'literate' is confined to signing one's name. Is this what education is all about?