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Government Guidelines on Coaching Centers

In a recent development, the Central Government has introduced comprehensive guidelines for coaching centres across all states. Notably, one of the significant changes is the prohibition of admission to children under 16. Unlike previous regulations, which lacked specific criteria for student admission, the new guidelines establish a clear age restriction, imposing penalties and fines for non-compliance.

Previously, coaching institutes operated with varying admission policies, potentially admitting children under 16 without any specified repercussions. However, recognizing the need for standardization and accountability, the government has taken decisive action to address these inconsistencies. The move comes in response to instances where some educational institutions engaged in disseminating misleading information on social media platforms, particularly regarding students' competitive exam rankings and academic achievements.

Under the newly issued rules and regulations by the Government of India, coaching institutes are strictly prohibited from making misleading claims, such as guaranteeing accurate ranks in competitive exams or promising top marks. Violations of these regulations may result in fines amounting to Rs 1 lakh for the erring establishments.

Registration Process

Application for registration should be submitted to the competent authority within the local jurisdiction, accompanied by the specified form, fees, and documents as mandated by the appropriate government. For coaching centres with multiple branches, each branch is treated separately, necessitating individual registration applications.

Upon receiving the application, the competent authority must grant the registration certificate within three months or communicate a refusal, recorded in writing with reasons. Refusal orders can only be issued after providing the concerned person a reasonable opportunity for a hearing.

Period of Validity and Renewal

The period of validity for the registration certificate will be determined by the appropriate government unless cancelled earlier. Registered coaching centres must apply for renewal two months before the certificate expiry date. The competent authority, upon receipt of the renewal application, decides on the renewal before expiration and may communicate refusal with recorded reasons. An online mechanism, via a web portal, is established to facilitate the faceless registration of coaching centres, minimizing human interface.

Conditions for Registration

Coaching centres must adhere to several conditions to maintain registration. These include hiring tutors with a minimum graduation qualification, refraining from making misleading promises, enrolling students above 16 years of age, adhering to space requirements, avoiding convicted personnel, and implementing a counselling system per the guidelines. Registered coaching centres must maintain an updated website with details on tutor qualifications, courses, duration, hostel facilities, fees, easy exit and fee refund policies, and student success statistics. Additionally, compliance with local laws, rules, and regulations is mandatory.

Documents for Registration

Every registration application must be accompanied by an undertaking from the proprietor, ensuring compliance with specified conditions. Renewal applications should include a copy of audited accounts by a Chartered Accountant. By following these guidelines, coaching centres can ensure compliance with the registration process and operating conditions, promoting transparency and accountability in the coaching industry.

Fee Structure and Transparency

In adherence to the guidelines, coaching centres are obligated to maintain fairness and reasonableness in the tuition fees for various courses. Furthermore, receipts for the fees collected must be readily available. A comprehensive prospectus, detailing course information, duration, class frequency, hostel facilities, fees, easy exit policy, and fee refund procedures, should be issued by the coaching centre. This information is not only documented but prominently displayed within the premises for easy accessibility. Coaching centres are mandated to provide enrolled students with prospectuses, notes, and other relevant materials without imposing additional charges. Additionally, in instances where a student withdraws from a course midway after full payment, a pro-rata refund within ten days is stipulated. This includes a refund of hostel and mess fees for students residing in coaching centre accommodations. Importantly, fees for a specific course and duration cannot be increased once enrollment has taken place.

Infrastructure Standards

To ensure a conducive learning environment, coaching centres must allocate a minimum of one square meter per student during classes or batches. Adequate infrastructure, proportionate to the student population, is crucial. Compliance with fire safety and building codes is mandatory, requiring obtaining Fire and Building Safety Certificates from relevant authorities. Coaching centres are also obliged to maintain first aid kits and medical assistance, along with displaying information about emergency services and helplines for students.

Building Facilities and Amenities

Coaching centre buildings are expected to be fully electrified, well-ventilated, and equipped with sufficient lighting in each classroom. The provision of safe drinking water for students and staff is imperative. The installation of CCTV cameras, where necessary, contributes to security measures. Moreover, a complaint box or register is to be made available for students to raise concerns, with a dedicated committee for the redressal of complaints and grievances. Separate toilet facilities for males and females within the coaching centre premises are a prerequisite.

Powers of the Competent Authority

The competent authority, vested with powers akin to those of civil courts under the Civil Procedure Code of 1908 (Central Act no. 5 of 1908), holds authority over the enforcement of guidelines. This authority encompasses the acceptance of evidence through affidavits, summoning and ensuring the attendance of individuals for examination on oath, enforcement of record production, and the ability to award costs associated with proceedings.

Penalties for Violation

In the event of a coaching centre violating the terms and conditions of registration or general guidelines, penalties are imposed in a graded manner. For the first offence, a penalty of Rs 25,000/- is levied, escalating to Rs. 1,00,000/- for the second offence. Subsequent offences may result in the revocation of registration. These penalties serve as deterrents, emphasizing the importance of compliance with established regulations.

Cancellation of Registration

The certificate of registration granted to a coaching centre may be cancelled at any time if the competent authority determines that the centre has contravened any guidelines or violated the terms and conditions of its registration. This cancellation is carried out without prejudice to any additional penal actions that may be pursued under relevant laws. Importantly, the competent authority must provide the holder of the certificate a reasonable opportunity to present their case before any cancellation order is issued. This ensures procedural fairness and transparency in the regulatory process. 

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