January 20, 2012

Parents protest fee hike at P Jog School

PUNE: Protesting against a 40 per cent hike in fees at P Jog School, a parents’ association has demanded that the school management withdraw its decision. As per the decision taken by the school, the fees for the academic session beginning June 2012 will be Rs 17,500 annually as against the present Rs 12,000.

“For the past four years, I have been giving separate fees for computer lessons in the school, but they still don’t have a computer laboratory. The school does not even have a playground. Last year, they increased the fees by Rs 2,000, but we have seen no improvement in the facilities,” said a parent.

DR Bandre, another parent said, “They sent us a letter saying the fees will be increased, but we were not told what additional facilities will be introduced. We were also called to the school for a meeting with the administration, but they didn’t give us a chance to present our side of the story. So we decided to form an association to protest on the issue. On Thursday we will meet again to decide the course of action.”

Amol Jog, vice-president, Jog Educational Trust, said, “Our fees is lesser than most other English medium schools in the city. With rising expenses and demands of salary hike by teachers and the non-teaching staff, we need to increase the fees. Unlike what some parents have claimed, as of now our annual fees for class I to class XII is only Rs 9,800 and not Rs 12,000.”

He added that many involved in the protests are not even parents of the students and hence have no reason to interfere in the school’s internal matters. “This is an attempt to defame us. We will take legal action against those who are misleading the parents,” said Jog.

Parents flay school fee increase in Steel City

JAMSHEDPUR: After the commotion over the random process of admission, schools are now at the centre of another controversy: fee hike. Schools have hinted at a tuition fee hike from the new academic session in April.

The Jharkhand Unaided Private English Schools (JUPES) have unanimously decided to increase the monthly tuition fee by 10 to 15 per cent. "The decision is in line with the guidelines of the Jharkhand Education Tribunal (JET) and it is not binding on the schools. If any school feels the hike is not necessary, it can have its way," said A P R Nair, convenor of the Jamshedpur chapter of JUPES.

Parents, however, are disappointed with the decision. "First we will appeal to the school management to roll back the decision and if required we will seek the judiciary's help," said Umesh, convenor of the Jamshedpur Parents' Association.

He said at a time when lower middle-class families are finding it difficult to cough up annual school fees, a further hike will only add to their woes.

They argued that the school management is saying they are being forced to hike fees because of increased expenditure. But there's been no perceptible improvement in the system of education, nor has the salary of a teacher been hiked.

"I spend about Rs 1,500 every month on my two daughters studying in UKG and Class-X in the Sacred Heart Convent School. Further increase in the tuition fee will upset my budget," said Tata Steel employee, Birender Kumar, expressing unhappiness with the fee hike decision.

Meanwhile, the process of admission to schools through the lottery system has begun.

Schools need parents’ nod to increase fees

HYDERABAD: The district education department (DEO) has made it mandatory for school managements in the city to take permission from parents before any hike in fees.

School officials will now have to discuss the reasons for increasing their fees with parent-teacher associations before announcing any hike. Were the revision in fee structure to be rejected by these associations, then the hike move may not be implemented, DEO said in a news release.

Schools are to display their fee structures on their notice boards and it should be accessible to parents and guardians. Also, details of the fee structure should be sent to the district education officer, the release said.

The DEO has warned school managements against taking donations.

The DEO's orders are applicable to all schools in the city including those with CBSE and ICSE certification, officials said.

The order comes at a time when parents' bodies have been crying foul over unjustified hikes in school fees.

Most schools in the city have increased their fees by 10% to 50% for the academic year 2011- '12.

January 17, 2012

DELHI-110054 PHONE 011-23910014

Hon’ble Smt. Sheila Dikshit,
Chief Minister of Delhi,
Secretariat, I.P.Estate,
New Delhi-110001

Sub: Regulate publicity advertisements by unaided private schools to curb commercialization of education

My Dear Chief Minister,

In law, commercialization of education is prohibited but in practice such commercialization is rampant and the government has utterly failed to check the same. In the backdrop of human, fundamental and birth right of free school education of every child as guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21, 21-A and 38 of the Constitution of India, the unaided private schools are literally bent upon looting the hapless parents.

These days, one can see large numbers of big size advertisements on road sides of several unaided private schools (for instance, G.D.Goenka School and VSPK School in Model Town area). Not only this, one can also see such advertisements in both electronic and print media. It is quite apparent that the burden of huge amounts being spent by the private schools on these avoidable advertisements would simply be shifted upon the hapless parents who are already subjected to exorbitant, arbitrary and unjust fee hike by the unaided private schools every year and crying for justice.

Needless to say that the government’s deliberate failure to provide good quality education to the children in State-run schools is forcing hapless parents to send their children to unaided private schools and to spend nearly 40% of their hard earned income on the same. The inaction on the part of the government to regulate publicity advertisements by the unaided private schools involving huge expenditures would further jeopardize the interests of the parents. It is submitted that such avoidable advertisements are against public interest and opposed to the public policy.

It is, therefore, requested that the government should forthwith frame regulations regulating the publicity advertisements by the unaided private schools. We, however, make it clear that we are not against necessary and unavoidable advertisements by the unaided private schools but we are strongly against those which are given with a view to commercialize education.

With regards,

Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
National President, AIPA

January 10, 2012

Schools rapped for 'uniform' fleecing

Do you dread the start of an academic year because you think that your child's school is determined to squeeze you dry? You're not alone.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has received several complaints from parents that under the pretence of maintaining uniformity, schools often insist that parents buy accessories like uniforms, books and shoes only from stores they have a tie-up with, which make a killing with inflated prices. The board has now issued a circular warning, uploaded on its website, of tough action against such profit-churning schools.

Parents were visibly relieved with the CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi's warning. Stressing that the warning is the need of the hour, they agreed that purchasing branded school uniforms, stationery, sweaters, shoes and socks burns a hole in their pocket.

Janet Agnel, whose 12-year-old son studies in a school in Fort, said, "A few weeks before the start of an academic year, the school gives us a list of accessories to be bought. Everything, right from the school uniform to socks, has to be bought at the outlet prescribed by the school. Even the school sweater needs to match the school uniform and we are told to buy it only from that shop. This shop sells such items at twice the market price. We have no choice but to buy from there.”

Mukesh Suthar, a Powai parent of a Class IX student, said, "We get a list of books to buy from the schools. Besides textbooks and notebooks, this list consists of many helpers such as workbooks and guides. These books are more expensive than the average textbook. But they are rarely used by the children in the year. At the end of the year, these workbooks have only a few pages filled in.''

Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education, alleged parents have had to spend anywhere between Rs5,000 and Rs 50,000 on school accessories alone. He claimed that many schools have tie-ups with certain brands and shops and that some invite vendors to sell such products on their premises on particular days before the start of an academic year.

"Such products, especially books, are deliberately made non-standard and made to order by the school. Schools give dimensions like 'eight-and-a-half inches', which will not be easily available anywhere else in the market. Parents are, therefore, compelled to buy from the school vendors. Schools indulging in such activities should be penalised," he said.

January 8, 2012

January 6, 2012

Many of India’s Poor Turn to Private Schools

Published: December 30, 2011

HYDERABAD, India — For more than two decades, M. A. Hakeem has arguably done the job of the Indian government. His private Holy Town High School has educated thousands of poor students, squeezing them into cramped classrooms where, when the electricity goes out, the children simply learn in the dark.

Parents in Holy Town’s low-income, predominantly Muslim neighborhood do not mind the bare-bones conditions. They like the modest tuition (as low as $2 per month), the English-language curriculum and the success rate on standardized tests. Indeed, low-cost schools like Holy Town are part of an ad hoc network that now dominates education in this south Indian city, where an estimated two-thirds of all students attend private institutions.

“The responsibility that the government should shoulder,” Mr. Hakeem said with both pride and contempt, “we are shouldering it.”

In India, the choice to live outside the faltering grid of government services is usually reserved for the rich or middle class, who can afford private housing compounds, private hospitals and private schools. But as India’s economy has expanded during the past two decades, an increasing number of India’s poor parents are now scraping together money to send their children to low-cost private schools in hopes of helping them escape poverty.

Nationally, a large majority of students still attend government schools, but the expansion of private institutions has created parallel educational systems — systems that are now colliding. Faced with sharp criticism of the woeful state of government schools, Indian policy makers have enacted a sweeping law intended to reverse their decline. But skeptics say the litany of new requirements could also wipe out many of the private schools now educating millions of students.

“It’s impossible to fulfill all these things,” said Mohammed Anwar, who runs a chain of private schools in Hyderabad and is trying to organize a nationwide lobbying campaign to alter the requirements. Referring to the law, he said, “If you follow the Right to Education, nobody can run a school.”

Education is one of India’s most pressing challenges. Half of India’s 1.2 billion people are 25 or younger, and literacy levels, while improving, could cripple the country’s long-term prospects. In many states, government education is in severe disarray, with teachers often failing to show up. Rote drilling still predominates. English, considered a prerequisite for most white-collar employment in India, is usually not the medium of instruction.

When it took effect in April 2010, the Right to Education Act enshrined, for the first time, a constitutional right to schooling, promising that every child from 6 to 14 would be provided with it. For a nation that had never properly financed education for the masses, the law was a major milestone.

“If we nurture our children and young people with the right education,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, commemorating the act with a televised address, “India’s future as a strong and prosperous country is secure.”

Few disagree with the law’s broad, egalitarian goals or that government schools need a fundamental overhaul. But the law also enacted new regulations on teacher-student ratios, classroom size and parental involvement in school administration that are being applied to government and private schools. The result is a clash between an ideal and the reality on the ground, with a deadline: Any school that fails to comply by 2013 could be closed.

Kapil Sibal, the government minister overseeing Indian education, has scoffed at claims that the law will cause mass closings of private schools. Yet in Hyderabad, education officials are preparing for exactly that outcome. They are constructing new buildings and expanding old ones, partly to comply with the new regulations, partly anticipating that students will be forced to return from closing private institutions.

“Fifty percent will be closed down as per the Right to Education Act,” predicted E. Bala Kasaiah, a top education official in Hyderabad.

As a boy, M. A. Hakeem listened as his father bemoaned the slow progress of his fellow Muslims in India. “Son,” he recalls his father’s saying, “when you grow up, you should provide education to our community.”

A few months after Mr. Hakeem completed the 10th grade, his father died. A year later, in 1986, Mr. Hakeem opened a small preparatory school with nursery classes. He was 15 years old.

Not yet old enough to vote, Mr. Hakeem held classes in his family’s home and enlisted his two sisters to handle administrative tasks. By the mid-1990s, Mr. Hakeem had opened Holy Town. The school has since produced students who have gone into engineering, commerce and other fields.

“I’m fulfilling my father’s dream,” Mr. Hakeem said.

When Holy Town opened, Mr. Hakeem’s neighborhood at the edge of the old quarter of Hyderabad had one private school, a Catholic one. Today, there are seven private schools within a half-mile of Holy Town, each charging a few dollars a month and catering to Muslim students with a largely secular education in English.

Their emergence roughly coincided with the economic liberalization that began in 1991. For decades, government officials had blamed rural apathy for India’s high illiteracy rates, saying that families preferred sending their children into the fields, not the classroom. But as the economy started taking off, public aspirations changed, especially among low-income families.

“In India today, demand is not really a constraint for education — it’s the supply,” said Karthik Muralidharan, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied Indian education. “Parents are seeing education as the passport out of poverty.”

The rising demand created a new market for private schools, and entrepreneurs big and small have jumped at the chance to profit from it. Corporate educational chains opened schools tailored to higher-income families, especially in the expanding cities. Low-cost schools like Holy Town proliferated in poorer neighborhoods, a trend evident in most major cities and spreading into rural India.

Estimating the precise enrollment of private schools is tricky. Government officials say more than 90 percent of all primary schools are run by or financed by the government. Yet one government survey found that 30 percent of the 187 million students in grades 1 through 8 now attend private schools. Some academic studies have suggested that more than half of all urban students now attend private academies.

In Mumbai, so many parents have pulled their children out of government schools that officials have started renting empty classrooms to charities and labor unions — and even to private schools. In recent years, Indian officials have increased spending on government education, dedicating far more money for new schools, hiring teachers and providing free lunches to students. Still, more and more parents are choosing to go private.

“What does it say about the quality of your product that you can’t even give it away for free?” Mr. Muralidharan said.

Most low-cost private schools also follow rote-teaching methods because their students have to take standardized tests approved by the government. But some studies suggest that teachers in government schools are absent up to 25 percent of the time. Poor children who attended private schools scored higher on reading and math tests, according to a study by Sonalde Desai, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, and other scholars.

“There is not much teaching that happens in the government schools,” said Raju Bhosla, 32, whose children attend one of Hyderabad’s low-cost private schools. “I never even thought about putting my kids in government schools.”

Across Hyderabad, work crews in 58 locations are expanding government schools or constructing new ones. To education officials, the building spree signals a rebirth of the government system, part of an $800 million statewide program to bring government schools into compliance with the new law.

For Mr. Sibal, the national education minister, government schools had atrophied because of a lack of money. Under Right to Education, states can qualify for more than $2 billion to improve facilities, hire new teachers and improve curriculums, he said.

“All these changes are going to transform the schools system in the next five years,” Mr. Sibal predicted. As for the tens of thousands of private schools opened during the past 15 years to satisfy the public’s growing hunger for education, Mr. Sibal said, “We’ve given them three years time,” referring to the 2013 compliance deadline. “We hope that is enough.”

Skepticism abounds. Elite private schools, already struggling with requirements that they reserve slots for poor and minority students, have filed lawsuits. But the bigger question is what will happen to the tens of thousands of low-cost private schools already serving the poor.

James Tooley, a British scholar who has studied private education in India, said government statistics grossly underestimate private schooling — partly because so many private institutions are not formally registered. In a recent survey of the eastern city of Patna, Mr. Tooley found 1,224 private schools, even though government records listed only about 40.

In Hyderabad, principals at several private schools said inspectors regularly threatened them with closings unless they paid bribes. Now, the principals say, the inspectors are wielding the threat of the Right to Education requirements and seeking even bigger bribes.

Mr. Anwar, the private school entrepreneur trying to organize a lobbying campaign, estimated that roughly 5,000 private schools operated in Hyderabad.

“Can the government close 5,000 schools?” he asked. “If they close, how can the government accommodate all these students?”

State will curb fee hike in pvt schools

The state government has warned private schools against increasing tuition fees by citing excuses such as increase in the property tax and other charges. It categorically stated that school managements must obtain mandatory approval for any fee hike from their Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and the school education department. The managements of private schools have announced their plans to increase fees by 40 per cent from the academic year 2012-13, citing increase in property tax, electricity, water charges etc.

“The government will not sit quiet if private schools resort to arbitrary hikes. Increasing the fee up to 40 per cent on the grounds that the government has raised taxes is totally ridiculous. Property tax is paid once a year. That too, most schools pay less than Rs 2 lakh property tax, even after revised rates. Schools that have enrolment of hundreds and thousands, can recover more than this amount even if the fee is raised by Rs 10 a month. This is totally unacceptable. We will take severe action against such schools that resort to indiscriminate fee hikes,” declared Mr Partha-sarathi, minister for secondary education. The minister has decided to convene a high-level meeting with officials of the school education department to discuss the fee issue. The government has already issued certain GOs to regulate fee structure in private schools.

January 2, 2012

Parents get New Year shock as schools announce fee hike

Hyderabad: The New Year started on a bitter note for parents in the city with as many as 5,000 private schools on Sunday announcing a 10 to 40% hike in their fee structures effective from June 2012. School managements said that the steep hike in property tax was the reason for the fee hike.

The government had announced a revised property tax structure for schools last month based on their locality, built-up area and space usage. It also mandated schools to follow certain fire-safety mechanisms. So, for instance, a school paying Rs 7,800, is now poised to pay as much as Rs 2.36 lakh in property tax. The amount would vary from one school to another but the percentage hike almost remains the same.

Schools have also cited the impending hike in electricity and water tariff in 2012 as the reason behind the hike. Schools are expected to submit in writing to the state secondary education department their desire to have fees hiked.

Managements of recognised schools that are known for their affordable fee structure have said that they will not be able to offer any fee subsidies this year. “The financial burden on schools has increased manifold. If the government wants us to keep the fee structures low they have to charge a low property tax,” said Srinivas Reddy, state president of the AP Private Managements’ Recognised Association.

Recognised schools likely to go up by 25% from next year
The fee hike announcement comes at a time when the state government is planning to increase the number of recognised schools in the city so that the proper rearing of children cuts across socio-economic sectors. The number of such schools is expected to increase by 25% in the new academic year as per an assessment done by the school education department.

Parents were predictably shocked with the sudden development. “Most schools which have decided to increase their fees this year are those that charge less than Rs 30,000 per annum right now. Parents will be hard hit even if the fees are hikes by 1%,” said a parent.

Parents further said that despite the growth in the number of corporate/international schools, many old schools run by the state government are still preferred due to the quality of education they offer.

“What attracts the parents to these schools is high-quality education at an affordable cost. If their fee also starts touching Rs 50,000 per annum it is as good as sending the children to one of the new schools which we wouldn’t otherwise prefer,” said a parent.

Times View
Education today is a flourishing business and, given the huge demand for quality education, the number of private schools in the city has multiplied like it has in the rest of the country. Fee structures have shot over the years with schools adding facilities and activities that were unheard of until a decade or so ago. While these changes are welcome for the holistic development of a child, what is disturbing is the monetary burden on parents. Schools are beefing up their incomes to pay taxes. But they need to keep the interest of the parents in mind and ensure that education does not become an unaffordable commodity.

January 1, 2012


Another year passed....we are still working for the cause we thought was worth taking up as individuals, then joined hands, became a group and now remained as friends.

Let us welcome 2012 with Hope and Warmth, wish you and your family members a great year ahead.

We will continue to work for the cause we took up in this year also...
Our politicians continue to let us down, as we see in the case of Janlokpal...still...we need to keep the flame on....