September 9, 2013

Curbs on franchisee schools welcomed

The Central Board of School Education (CBSE) has restricted schools from entering into monetary transactions with their franchisees, a move welcomed by parents across the city.
Several schools including various branches of Delhi Public Schools, DRS and Edify are parent institutions of many franchisee schools. The franchisee school pays a certain sum to the parent institution for using its name, logo and motto and the money is collected as part of the students' fees. The parent institution in turn, helps in setting up of the franchisee school but usually has no say in its internal management.
Following the CBSE's decision last week, parent institutions will now need to have an official record stating that they are not in any sort of transactional agreement with a franchisee school.
"We have been trying to protest against this monetary transaction between schools for a long time now as the burden of such an arrangement is borne by the parents, which is unacceptable. The move by the central board will help in making the education system more transparent," said Dr Shanth Kumar Goel, president of AP Parents' Association.
Many franchisee schools under the same parent institution have different fee structure."A school under the same brand name charges differently depending on its location. This sort of education is elitist and discriminatory," said Prasanth Kumar, parent of a four-year-old.
Despite an exorbitant fee structure, franchisee schools have a huge demand amongst parents who expect that these schools will provide the best education to their children. However, course curriculum between franchisee schools and parent institutions differs in most cases. "One look at the course curriculum at many of these schools will show the poor quality of education that is being imparted," Goel said.

July 20, 2013

16 lakh school seats, but only 9 lakh students in Hyderabad: Report

HYDERABAD: In what seems to be an irony, the city has more number of seats being offered by schools than students. In direct violation of the Supreme Court order in 2012 which had asked governments to regulate the surge of private schools, Hyderabad has at least eight private schools in every 5 km radius. The statistics by the school education department reveals that cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai have only 3-4 schools in every 5 km radius.
The alarming increase in the number of schools is a trend seen in the last five years, with big schools setting up branches in different areas. While there are around 9 lakh students in the city, the number of seats being offered by the 2,000 government and private schools in Greater Hyderabad is close to 16 lakh, a figure critics say is unheard of in other cities. Sadly at the same time, students in neighbouring districts like Nalgonda, Warangal and Ranga Reddy are struggling to get a seat given the less number of schools there.
"The government has sanctioned more schools for the city this academic year, adding on to the existing schools. Close to 40 per cent of the seats in most schools are left vacant every year as there are no takers," said S Srinivas Reddy, president, AP Recognised Schools Managements Association. The association had petitioned the state government as early as September 2012, asking it to regulate fresh sanctions being accorded to schools.
"Private managements set up schools in prime localities like Hyderabad as they tend to reap more benefits from cities than rural areas. But the government must allow for an equal distribution of schools in both rural and urban areas as per the requirement," said R Venkat Reddy, director, M V Foundation, an NGO working on school education.
However, when asked about the massive increase in the number of schools, officials of the school education department said they are left with no option but according sanctions. "The constitution allows for the setting up of institutions and we have been giving permission to institutions which have fulfilled the requirements specified under the AP Education Act," said an official. Critics, however, said that the city has way more schools than the department can inspect regularly.
Times View
The government should immediately crack down on the proliferation of schools in congested localities. It is saddening to see that on the city outskirts and in remote districts, students have to trek for hours to reach their schools. The government should immediately impose a ban on city schools trying to open branches and instead ask them to set up schools outside the city. Hyderabad wants quality education for its children and they have enough schools for it.