A manager of an unregistered Indian international school who had collected over $80,000 in school fees from 12 students was fined $18,000 in court on Monday, in the first such case in Singapore.
The sanction against Natarajan Panneer Selvam came after Kalaibharathi International School (KIS) had earlier been told by the Council for Private Education (CPE), which regulates the private education industry here, that it was not allowed to advertise, collect fees, or conduct classes before its application for registration was approved.
Its application was rejected in December 2012 after it failed to meet the CPE's mandatory registration requirements. Private education institutions have to meet requirements such as getting approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority to use their premises to operate as a commercial school and a fire safety clearance from the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
The manager then did not refund its students the full course fees that they had paid between February and June 2012, despite the CPE instructing KIS, which was located in Jurong East Ave 1, to do so.
The council said in a statement that the manager was fined after pleading guilty to two charges of knowingly assisting an unregistered private education institution, and for not complying with the CPE's directions. A spokesman for the CPE told The Straits Times that it was the first time that a person was charged under the Private Education Act for such offences.
Another manager of KIS, Ms Panneerselvam Susanna, was issued a stern warning for playing a part in Selvam's offences.
The council advised students interested in enrolling in a private education institution to first check the CPE website at www.cpe.gov.sg for a list of registered providers. They can also contact CPE at 6592 2108 or firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification.