March 30, 2012

Tuition fee hike by pvt schools questioned

Patna: Ruling NDA members in the Bihar assembly today raised the issue of alleged arbitrary increase in tuition fee by private schools in the state and demanded that the government take immediate steps to constitute a committee to curb this.

JD(U) member Manjit Kumar Singh raised the issue during zero hour and demanded that the state government bring a private school fees control bill.

He was soon joined by JD(U) and BJP colleagues who stood up in their seats.

As the din continued Congress MLA Sadanand Singh said earlier a house committee had been constituted to look into the arbitrary fee hike by private schools.

After din for a brief period Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary said he was taking cognizance of the matter which would be looked into keeping in mind the sentiments of the members.

East Delhi school faces an exodus after big fee hike

New Delhi, March 29 2012, DHNS:
Principal says all schools in city increase charges from new session

More than 250 parents have withdrawn their wards names from St Lawrence School in Gandhi Nagar, east Delhi complaining of enormous fee hike. The school authorities cite reasons such as smart classes, property tax and new construction for the hike.

Qiaser Javed, president of the Lawrence School parents welfare association, blames the management for being inconsiderate towards parents’ concerns.

“The management is rude and not willing to answer any questions about regular fee hike by nearly Rs 1,500 every quarter, since January 2011. Parents are now paying Rs 20,000 per child for the April-June quarter. We have filed a petition in the High Court against the school’s malpractices,” he said.

Sanjay Pandey, another parent who has two children studying in class III and VII alleges that the school forces parents to agree with their terms of fee hike.

“If we do not agree with their terms, the authorities ask us to take transfer certificates. We know one parent who was given a fee bill of Rs 60,000 for the last quarter for his three children studying in this school. He decided to take a TC and has been running around from one school to the other to get his children’s admission,” he said.

Parents allege that despite the fee hike “better facilities” are not provided at the school.

“They have changed my ward’s grades in the report card for many subjects. We have proof that my child got an A but in the report card, the teacher has given him a B. Why? Because I raise my voice against unnecessary hikes every quarter,” said a parent. He is among those 250 parents who have withdrawn their children from the school.

In some other cases, the school is allegedly nudging students to leave. At least 100 students have not been given their fee slips.

“They have not even given books, school uniforms and stationery for these children when their classmates have received their due. The school has asked these parents to withdraw their child from the school without giving a proper explanation for the absurd demand,” added Pandey.

Sandhya Narang, principal of St Lawrence school rubbished the allegations saying the school cannot compel students to stay.

“If parents give me transfer certificates, I cannot force them to stay. And fee hike cannot be a reason for leaving the school. All schools in Delhi hike their fees from the new session which begins in April,” she said.

Also, the school has started taking new admissions to fill vacant seats created by this massive withdrawal.

Parents demand quality education at MCD schools

Parents tell candidates in the upcoming MCD elections to make RTE central to their manifesto

Miraj, a 40-year-old housewife from east Delhi's Trilokpuri area had only one thing to ask of the candidates for the municipal corporation seat from her area, and no, it was not roads or drains or any of the usual demands. It was quality education at the municipal corporation fo Delhi (MCD) school thather children attended. At a public meeting organised by Josh, an NGO, on Wednesday, the candidates made notes as Miraj spoke about the problems her kids face at the school.

She has two daughters studying in the tenth and the ninth grades at the MCD school in ward number 27 of Trilokpuri. Miraj says the teachers pay no attention to the children and that there is no availability of drinking water at the school.

“If they cannot give us clean roads, it is alright with us. But we want quality education for our children. Both my children hardly understand any subject at school; we have to spend Rs 500 every month on their tuitions to ensure they learn something. If this will continue, how will they get jobs after school,” wonders Miraj.

Many other parents face similar problems. Shashi Kaur's four children attend the same school as Miraj's daughters. She says there are no fans in the classrooms and it becomes difficult for children to study during the summer months.

“Drinking water is not available in schools. During summers, we go to school 2-3 times a day to give water to our children,” she said.

Most of these children are first generation learners but for their parents their education has always been a priority. Thus, they want to ensure quality education for their children.

“Earlier, whenever we complained about such issues, nobody paid any attention. But now we can demand it. We cannot afford to send our children to private schools. All we want is that our children should get quality education and clean environment in schools,” says Jaisri Devi, whose five children are enrolled in a MCD school.

She adds, “Teachers never call us for meeting or inform us about the progress of our child. And when we ask, they are rude to us. We have been told that schools have to form school management committees in which our involvement is mandataory. But nothing of the sorts has happened as yet.”

It has been two years since the right to education act was enacted but it has not been fully implemented. Schools still lack in infrastructure and quality education.

With the help of Josh, the community members prepared a charter of demands on RTE. The organisation brought together nominees of different political parties for a Jan Manch to get them to respond to teh parents' concerns.

Nominees of Samajwadi Party, BSP, BJP, Congress attended the meeting and promised to change the condition of schools.

Praveen Massi, a candidate from the Samajwadi Party said, “The biggest problem is that in many schools there are no separate toilets for girls and where they are there, there is the problem of hygiene. If I win, I promise to take steps to improve this condition because every child has the right to get quality education.”

Saurabh Sharma of Josh believes that it is the time that the authorities acted on the complaints of the parents. He said, “We all know that there are problems in schools but now it is the time to find solutions. We all want these leaders to include the issue of education in their manifesto and ensure that they work to fully implement the act.”

Ramchand Gulati, the BJP candidate said he will ensure that condition of schools improve if he wins. “We do not need private schools for our children. We will make these schools good enough. I also promise to open a library for children in this locality.”

He added that for the better implementation of the education act, it is important for the parents to be attentive and keep an eye on the activities of schools.

Parents protest arbitrary fee hike

Management of Shayona International School faced parents’ ire for proposing a steep hike in school fee; parents against sending children to school

Parents in Ghatlodia took to street on Wednesday to protest arbitrary fee hike by Shayona International School when the school management didn’t pay heed to their demand of rolling back the hike. The agitating parents have decided to not send their children to school until the school withdraw its decision.

A worried parent, Suresh Acharya, said, “In three years, the fees has gone up from Rs 8,800 to Rs 14,800. Until they roll back the hike, we will not send our children to school.”

“How can a middle class families like us afford such arbitrary fee hike? Our salaries increase only by Rs 600 per year. How can a fee-hike of Rs 6,000 be affordable to us?” asked Harshad Chaudhary whose two children study at the school.

‘Various means of extracting money’
Bhavik Shah said, “When I tried to meet the authorities, I was asked to get lost. I was told that if I had any issue, I should just take the leaving certificate of my child.”

“The school has been taking money on some or other pretext. The annual day event was recorded in a set of four CDs which we had to buy for Rs 240. Who doesn’t know that a DVD for Rs 20 is available in the market?” he added.

An army personnel, Sunil Kumar, said, “The authorities said that the increase has been introduced as they are set to follow CBSE. Where are the facilities for which this kind of money is being asked for?”

“Even on annual function day, we had to pay Rs 300 just to enter the campus,” said Nidhi Modi, a protesting parent.

‘My child can’t speak English’
A majority of parents admitted their wards to Shayona International as they wanted their kids to be well conversant in English. “My child is in class 8 but cannot speak one sentence in English. What’s the point then in sending our child to a CBSE English medium school?” said Aarti Patel.

“My kid studies in senior KG. She is supposed to fill worksheets which are checked and submitted. My child did not submit her worksheets entire year but got A+. How’s that possible?” said another parent. “No attention is paid on the homework. In fact, we have to correct the wrong answers of our children for which they even get stars.”

‘We raised the fee in two parts’
When contacted, school’s managing trustee Suresh Patel said, “We cannot do anything about fee hike because it was necessary to improve the school’s standard. There is only one option that we cut down on facilities. The parents can decide what they want,” said Patel.

Principal Dolly Pathak said: “We were supposed to increase the complete fee hike last year itself but we thought we should relax it by raising it in two parts. 25 per cent fee was raised last year.”

March 29, 2012

Parents and schools slam bid to impose ‘unjust’ burden

MUMBAI: Schools, parents and activists say none of the reasons given by school bus operators for a fee hike cut any ice with them.

"We pay fees for all 12 months, though our children attend school only for about nine months. I pay another Rs 470 every month for my son's school bus to drop him from King's Circle to Sion, a very small distance. Why should I pay more?" said Raghu Chari, whose son is in SIES High School, Sion.

Schools too are supporting parents on the issue. "In the past few months, bus operators went on strike whenever they wished. Many parents faced problems as they had to take leave from work and drop their children to school. Still, bus owners are demanding a fee hike. There can't be a logical justification for this," said the principal of a suburban school. She added many parents have contacted her, seeking help. "We don't know how to resolve this issue. The government needs to intervene," she added. Many principals were angry about a pending Government Resolution that the education department has still not sent to schools.

"How can the bus owners decide to hike fees? The transport committee set up in every school is supposed to decide on a structured fee hike, depending on the geographical location of the school and the student's residence," said activist Indrani Malkani. She added parents wouldn't mind paying more if it is for their children's safety. "It is unfair to target parents every time. Bus owners threaten strikes to get their way and we are forced to give in," said Rinkesh Jain, whose child is at Diamond Jubilee High School, Mazgaon.

"It is totally unjustified of bus operators to collect infrastructure cost from parents. Under an earlier Supreme Court judgment, even schools are not allowed to charge any amount towards infrastructure cost," said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education. He added the forum will raise this issue in their petition before the Bombay High Court, which will be heard in June.

Rajasthan to pass law against fee hike in pvt schools

Jaipur, Mar 27, 2012 (PTI)

The state government will bring a law to restrain private schools in Rajasthan from increasing students’ fee at their whim. The decision was made public during a hearing on a petition in the Rajasthan high court.

Additional advocate general Nasir Ali Naqvi informed the high court that a Fee Fixation Regulation Bill will be introduced in the state to regulate the fee structure of private schools.

The division bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Narendra Kumar Jain gave the state government three weeks time to act on a Public Interest litigation (PIL) filed by Mohit Soni.

During the hearing, Naqvi informed the court that the government has taken frequent increase in school fee seriously and has decided to introduce a guideline for ascertaining the fee. Taking his reply on record, the court deferred the hearing in the case for three weeks.

Meanwhile, private schools have decided to wait for the government’s next move. President of unaided private schools of Rajasthan, Damodar Goyal did not want to comment on the issue now. He said he could only say something after the details of the regulation are made public.

Two years back the state government had allowed a maximum of 10% increase in tuition fee in a year but the schools were violating the guidelines.

The PIL filed by Mohit Soni said schools increase the fees often and quoting an exorbitant increase in uniform and tuition fee of students.

Private Schools directed not to indulge in fee hike, commercialisation

Jammu, Mar. 21:

Director, School Education, Jammu today directed all private schools affiliated to State Board and CBSE to do away with charging higher tuition fees and other sorts of charges under various heads besides other commercialised practices by the schools.

In a specially called meeting of representatives of management of both state and CBSE affiliated private schools, the Director, School Education, G. A. Qureshi said that complaints' are pouring from general public, Public representatives, Parents' bodies and State Consumer Council that the private schools are charging exorbitant fee and resorting to selling of course books, notebooks and uniforms from their premises on higher rates and that all the stakeholders in this regard have shown a great concern which has necessitated the convening of this meeting so that the issues involved are discussed and some headway is made.

While deliberating upon the issue of fee structure it was noted that private schools are not notifying the fee structure through print media and they were asked to ensure that all type of fee which they charge should be notified well before the new admissions. It was also noted that some of the schools have charged the fee on different items when they could easily group these items and charge the justified fee so that it should not become a burden on the parents those are interested to admit their wards in private schools. The private schools were asked to justify the fee structure being charged by them and they were also asked to immediately notify the fee structure in the print media as well it should be displayed on the notice board of the school and on the prominent places for the information of the general public and especially for the parents whose wards are receiving education in these schools. They were asked to follow SRO-123 in letter and spirit and adhere to the instructions of the government in this regard and take parents association into confidence.

It was further impressed upon the schools to charge the admission fee only once on the enrolment / admission of the child, not to revise the fee in the mid-session and not to charge the fee for the items which they are not making properly available in their schools. Any revision of fee shall be made only with due consultation with the parents association under an intimation to Director, School Education. They were also asked to review the fee structure being charged by them during current year especially the caution money which although is refundable but the charging of such fee can be easily avoided as the participating schools could not give the justification for it. Similarly the charges of registration fee, medical fee development fee should have sufficient justification before these are charged.

Regarding selling of books, notebooks, stationery and uniforms in the school premises the management of the schools were asked to avoid as far as possible to sell these items from the school premises but in case the schools in order to facilitate the students sells these items from their premises it should be sold on concessional rates as compared to the market rate.

Regarding transport charges direction were issued to the schools to charge the bus fare strictly as per the rates fixed by the Transport Department. They were also asked to arrange suitable buses as has been prescribed for the transportation of students. They were further asked to chart out the route plan in such a way so as to avoid the congestion of traffic on the roads besides it should be convenient for the children to reach their destinations as early as possible.

Upon deliberating the issue of engagement of teaching staff the schools were requested to engage highly qualified staff and it should be ensured that the teachers engaged in the schools do not leave the school during the session. Besides Training programme for updating the knowledge of the teachers should be arranged regularly in the schools. Management of the schools were also asked to maintain accounts, cash book, contingent register etc strictly as prescribed under SRO-123 in order to ensure the transparency and accountability.

The schools were also requested to review the rate of the enhancement of the fee proposed by the schools during this year and a suggestion was made to them not to enhance the fee during the Current Academic session as a confidence building measure. They were instructed to provide the detail of the fee structure charged by them for the last three years, facilities provided by them along with justification for the levy of the fee to the Directorate of School Education within week's time. In the end the Director School Education, Jammu said that commercialization of education should be avoided at any cost.

Those attended the Meeting at Directorate included all the CBSE affiliated schools of Jammu district; M.S. Baloria, Secretary, J & K BOSE, Dr. Javed Iqbal Khateeb, Jt. Secretary, BOSE, Dr. Narupa Rai, Personnel Officer, DSEJ, Sh. H. R. Pakhroo, Sh. A. C. Aima and Sh. S.K. Gandotra, Joint Directors, Directorate of School Education, Jammu, besides Sh. Rakesh Gupta, Joint Director, CAPD, Sh. Amar Singh, Jt. Controller, Legal Metrology, Jammu, Sh. Jaideep Das, Assistant Commissioner, KVS R.O, Sh. D.R Danish President Consumer Protection Organisation, Jammu, Sh. Yash Paul Gupta President ACTF Jammu, Director Academics K.C international School Paloura, Vice Principal, Presentation Convent School Jammu, Principal G.D Goenka School Jammu, Principal, JK Public School, Principal Banyan International School,Vice Principal Jodhamal Public School, Principal Heritage School, Representative of MHAC School Nagbani, Principal KC Gurukul Public School Paloura, Principal KC Public School Jammu, A.O DPS Jammu, T. Manager DPS Jammu, Administrator, DPS Jammu. Principal JP World School Jammu.

March 26, 2012


It’s an open secret that admission to many private schools in Calcutta takes place through hefty under-the-counter fees. Are only unscrupulous touts and desperate parents to blame? Hemchhaya De finds out

A dark, narrow stairway leads to a modest flat on the first floor of a nondescript multi-storey building in Calcutta’s Park Circus. It’s a tutorial home of sorts, run by one Mrs Ireland (name changed), who teaches in a well-known Catholic school in the city.

From 3pm to 6pm every weekday, the flat is packed with children who come for tuition. This is also where the 50-something teacher meets parents who wish to “buy” seats in some top-notch private schools in the city. Mrs Ireland is a “tout” or an “agent”, in parent parlance. In fact, she comes highly recommended by parents who had sought her “services” in the past.

Right now she is negotiating terms with the relative of a child who has missed the bus for the nursery class, the entry level to most schools. “If you want the child to be admitted to the next higher class, you have to pay a hefty sum as a ‘donation’. Are you sure the parents can afford it,” she asks. “If you pay me Rs 2.5 lakh, I can get the child admitted to my school mid-session,” she says. Her “fee” for admission to a top missionary school is Rs 5 lakh.

It’s an open secret that seats are on sale in many private schools in the city. “Such commercial dealings are rampant in West Bengal, especially in Calcutta,” says educationist Sunanda Sanyal.

It’s not just gone unchecked for years, but is becoming more and more blatant. “Allegations of under-the-table commercial dealings in admission have been a cause of concern for many years now,” stresses Nabarun De, principal of Central Modern School in Baranagar and secretary of the Association of ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) Schools in Calcutta.

But the trend, educationists lament, continues even as laws such as the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act forbid capitation fees. State authorities admit as much. “We do hear about such cases in the state,” says Bikram Sen, principal secretary, West Bengal school education department.

One reason for the continuing trend is the fact that the parties concerned take care to keep the dealings under wraps. The clandestine affair involves touts and school staff.

The sale of seats takes many forms. Often, it’s through a donation that a parent is forced to pay to the school, which, it is suggested, will open the school’s doors. “Although authorities claim transparency in admission procedures, parents are forced to pay donations, especially if we are opting for top schools,” says Varsha Kejriwal, a Calcutta homemaker who wanted her son, Rahul, to join a leading missionary school.

Rahul did well at the school interview, but was denied admission, she says. She was then informed that if she donated “a few lakh rupees” to a “church fund”, her son could find a seat. “We paid an agent associated with a senior member of the clergy in Calcutta who in turn got us a letter from him asking the principal of the school to admit our son,” says Kejriwal. After her businessman husband paid Rs 6 lakh, Rahul was admitted.

The deal is not always in cash. Calcutta businessman Mohammed Alam, who’d approached a middle-ranking private school for his son last year, was asked to “gift” two split air-conditioners to the school. After bargaining, the school settled for a single AC. “We had no other choice,” says Alam, who was not given a receipt.

Ashok Agarwal, an advocate with the Supreme Court who heads the lawyers’ collective Social Jurist which fights for the cause of education, says he gets complaints from parents in Calcutta about admission irregularities.

School authorities deny the allegations. “There’s no monetary dealing whatsoever during school admissions at Don Bosco,” says Father Joseph Manipadam, former principal of Don Bosco Park Circus (DBPC), Calcutta, and currently the rector and principal of Don Bosco, Siliguri. “We don’t promote middlemen and no teacher is involved in the admission process.”

Supriyo Dhar, secretary and spokesperson, La Martiniere for Boys (LMB), Calcutta, adds that the school has a strict “no-donation” policy. “And mid-session admissions are quite rare in our school at least.”

However, the authorities admit that so-called agents do play a role. “Touts scout around schools during the admission season,” says Father Manipadam. “They make false promises to parents, take money and deliver nothing.” The school authorities have informed the police about these “agents”. The LMB authorities add that they too have encouraged parents to lodge police complaints.

“They are generally outsiders who stoop to any level to cheat parents,” says Dhar. “Parents have come to us with forged letters promising admission to our school. It’s very easy to detect that these are fake documents because the agents misspell names and use fake rubber stamps.”

Devi Kar, Principal, Modern High School for Girls, Calcutta, points out that these “agents” claim they liaise with schools whereas school authorities do not even know of their existence.

Apparently, touts swindle gullible parents out of thousands of rupees for these “fake” letters assuring admission to LMB. “In July 2011, we lodged a written complaint with the Shakespeare Sarani police station against a tout giving parents fake receipts (against a payment of Rs 10,000) bearing forged signatures of officials from the Archbishop of Calcutta’s office as well as from our school. The letters also had fake rubber stamps,” Dhar says. “If parents don’t exercise caution, we can give them nothing but sympathy.”

But the police station close to LMB says it has no records of the complaints. A year’s record showed no such complaints, say duty officers at the Shakespeare Sarani police station. Dhar, however, says the school has a written record of the complaint. “At that time, the police came to us for inquiry. They haven’t got back to us since then,” says Dhar.

“We did our bit by furnishing all relevant documents establishing the forgery,” he adds.

School authorities stress that parents are not blameless either. Kar, in fact, believes that people who pay bribes should be punished. “There is no punitive action against — or any kind of deterrent for — those who pay these touts. Both parties are offenders after all,” she says. “Then there is the practice of people in positions of power being approached by various people to recommend their wards. Certain influential and powerful people expect schools to accommodate their candidates as a matter of right.”

But activists demur, pointing out that parents are often pushed to the wall because too many students are competing for too few seats. “You can call it a demand-supply problem,” says educationist Sanyal. “There are lakhs of applications against a handful of seats. And since government schools are in a shambles, parents have no choice.”

According to the Anglo-Indian Schools section of the West Bengal school education department, there are nearly 500 English medium private schools — both unaided and those receiving partial aid — in the state.

Top schools are indeed inundated with thousands of applications every year. According to the LMB spokesperson, the school receives around 2,000 applications every year at the lower nursery level. Of these, 400 are shortlisted for an informal interaction and 180 selected. The spokesperson maintains that 95 per cent of the seats go to general candidates. Not everyone agrees though. Says a well-placed source at LMB, “Of these 180 seats, a bulk is reserved for Anglo-Indian students, children of Christian staff members, children of LMB alumni and other categories. All in all, around 30-40 seats are open to general candidates.”

The situation is as competitive in DBPC. According to sources, 7-8 per cent of all students who apply finally make it at the entry level of Class I. With such a crunch, parents perhaps cannot be fully blamed. “The primary responsibility lies with the state government to check commercialisation of education,” says advocate Agarwal, who headed a two-member committee that probed LMB student Rouvanjit Rawla’s suicide case in Calcutta. The state authorities, on their part, plead helplessness. “In most cases, we do not give grants to private schools to run their operations. Nor do we have any representation in their managing committees. So we don’t have much of a say in their admission procedures,” says Amiya Sanyal, deputy director of the West Bengal school education department (Anglo-Indian Schools section).

“We can issue circulars and request them to look into irregularities — but those are not binding on them.” School boards such as the ICSE say they seldom get complaints against affiliated schools on donations for admission. “I am not aware of such complaints. If we do get them, they would be placed before the executive committee of the Council for the ISCE,” says Gerry Arathoon, additional secretary and officiating chief executive and secretary, Council for the ISCE. But he says the council has affiliation guidelines clarifying admission rules and regulations. “As per our guidelines, no school is allowed to charge capitation fees in any form or accept donation for the purpose of admission of pupils,” he says. But Agarwal believes bodies such as the ICSE are “weak” and not equipped to battle admission irregularities. What then is the way out?

The advocate calls for legal intervention. “Although we are asking for a central law to regulate private schools, we need more stringent state laws,” Agarwal stresses. “If schools are found taking donations or capitation fees in any form, the management should face imprisonment. The state cannot just abdicate responsibility,” he adds. Principal secretary Sen believes that private schools must follow the law of the land. “We are aware of the problem and are holding consultations with various school boards and other stakeholders to find a solution,” he adds.

The Right to Education Act states that schools found guilty of taking capitation fees in any form have to return 10 times the amount taken. But the problem lies in proving that schools have forced parents to make a donation during admission. Parents have no proof of the money they give — and can hardly take the matter up legally when there is no evidence. A relative asks Mrs Ireland if there is any guarantee that their candidate would get admission into the school of their choice, even after paying such a huge sum.

“I know members of the school board. I’d need the money to book a seat,” she says, asking for the parents’ bio-data, saying that it’s the only document that needs to be furnished. But despite probing questions, the teacher refuses to divulge how much of the money goes to the school and what her “cut” could be. The problem clearly lies in the system’s inability to nail the guilty. “Parents have to ask for receipts while making payments either to school authorities or to agents, most of whom have no connection whatsoever with admission committees of schools,” says Central Modern School principal De.

But who will give a receipt, or which desperate parent will ask for one? “Without any written proof, it’s difficult to take any action,” says Debi Prasad Jana, a senior official with the state consumer affairs ministry. “One can always initiate legal action individually.

But there is a better option — if many complainants join hands, one can think of class action under the Consumer Protection Act.” Until that happens, Mrs Ireland and her ilk will continue to have a field day.
(Some names have been changed to protect identities)

March 7, 2012

A for admission fee

The spectre of donation is haunting parents once again. It is that time of the year when parents run around in search of a school that can provide quality education without charging an astronomical sum as ‘admission’ fee. The fleecing is there in almost all schools, only the amount varies in proportion to their individual clout.

Pelli chesi choodu, illu katti choodu is a Telugu saying (meaning, perform a marriage or build a house to know onerous responsibility) that every parent must have heard at least once in their lifetime. If we go by the present situation in regard to school admissions, one may well add - kotha admission chesi choodu to the saying.

Getting admission in a good school that has an affordable fee structure is like chasing a mirage. Try as much as you want, still you cannot escape shelling out huge sums as admission fee. This amount is non-refundable and it urrently ranges from `15,000 – `1,00,000.

The whole process takes at least a couple of months. Parents need to get the prospectus from at least five or six schools and what makes it even more difficult is that there are no standard regulations.

The admission procedure, rules, entrance exams, interviews and the type of questions differ from one school to another. Finally, the interactive session with the managements of schools is something that can be a harrowing experience.

Alok, a parent, asks, “Why should I answer questions? I know my responsibilities. Questions on family background are something I detest. I had to attend interviews and take my kid to different schools on different dates. I lost 10 working days.”

Apart from spending a huge sum at the time of new admission, the annual school fee, transport and others can cost between `25,000-60,000 annually in most schools. When it comes to international schools that offer International Baccalaureate (IB) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) syllabus, then the annual fee can range anywhere between Rs 2,00,000 and Rs 4,00,000, depending on the school and its reputation.

Ramesh Patnaik, organising secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Save Education Committee (APSEC), says, “According to the 1/1994 AP Government Act, 50 percent of the fee collected has to be used for teachers’ emoluments, 15 per cent for teachers’ retirement benefits, another 15 per cent for day-to-day expenditure, 15 per cent for school’s development and five per cent is at the discretion of the management.

“This year, schools have increased their fee from 18 to 100 per cent. Last year an international school, located at Kondapur, was charging `74,000. This year it has increased the amount to Rs 1,32,000. Some school managements went to the Andhra Pradesh High Court and obtained a stay on the GO 91.

As the government cannot intervene at the present juncture, the school managements are doing as they wish,” says Ravi Kumar, general secretary of the Hyderabad Schools Parents Association (HSPA).

B Parvesh, president of the Hyderabad Public School Ramanthapur Parents Association, says, “As per the 96-2006 GO-MS – school managements are allowed to collect Rs 1,500 as admission fee. HPS Ramanthapur and HPS Begumpet collect Rs 25,000 as admission fee and another Rs 5,000 as caution deposit.

The society is diverting the money to its corpus and the accrued yearly interest amounts to Rs 80 lakh per year.” He adds, “There is no explanation as to how the money is used. The society is sitting on Rs 12 crore.”

The money collected from admission fee is not shown as revenue. As per the Government Act 1994/1, 65 per cent of the fund is to be used for teachers’ salaries and welfare. The parents association has been fighting for transparency in the society’s work.

M Somi Reddy, DEO of Hyderabad, says, “As the GO has been challenged, school managements are going about their work without any thought. The department is keeping an eye on school managements.”

March 5, 2012

Private schools have taken undue advantage of parents

MUMBAI: Due to the implementation of various pay commissions over the last 12 years, school fees have gone up by almost 300 to 400%. Many private unaided institutions have taken undue advantage of parents. The maximum fee hike due to implementation of the Pay Commission was up is 50% for one academic year only, but many schools grabbed this opportunity and misled parents by increasing their fees almost every year.

Hundreds of complaints were lodged with the education department and the Forum for Fairness in Education (FEE). There were cases where signatures taken for attending a Parent-Teachers' Association (PTA) meeting were used and treated as an approval for a fee hike. In some schools, bogus PTA elections were held, and those 'elected' were chosen by the members of school management bodies. Around 70% of schools do not even have a lawful PTA body. And many international schools flouted government rules while forming parent-teachers' association.

Often, parents had no choice but to pay these exorbitant fees. Those who try to object are targeted, and their children harassed or victimized by the school management.

Schools started collecting various fees under different heads: such as an admission fee of up to Rs 2-5 lakh; security deposit of around Rs 3 lakh, building funds up to Rs 1 lakh, school essentials up to Rs 90,000; activity and hobby fees amounting to as much as Rs 50,000. Then there are additional maintenance charges, audio visual fees, computer laboratory fees, laboratory charges, school funds, annual day charges, picnic and transport fees, etc. They also made it made it compulsory for parents to purchase stationery, books and uniforms from the school itself-at almost three times the market price. In short, these schools try their best to exploit parents. I know of a suburban school that charges a fee of Rs 14 lakh at the nursery level.

The lack of unity among parents have encouraged schools to do this. The forum played a vital role in checking and bring some control on fee hikes by holding signature campaigns, protesting government inaction, lodging complaints with various authorities, filing PILs in the HC, and so on. The education system has been commercialized across India.

A few states, namely Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat have brought some control on fees by not only introducing statutory laws but strongly and successfully fighting the matter in the HC and apex courts when challenged by school management bodies. The government of Maharashtra, however, has yet to take action. We propose that there be an upper limit or ceiling on the collection of maximum fees by unaided schools, or this exploitation will continue.