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.

June 21, 2013

Task Force raids on unrecognised schools - Parents Complain Over Exorbitant Fees

Guntur: Cracking the whip on mushrooming unauthorised private schools, Task Force teams conducted surprise raids in various districts on Wednesday. 

The drive against unauthorised schools was launched following complaints from parents and students over the collection of exorbitant fees by managements without providing basic facilities. The aim of the Task Force teams, comprising officials from the education, revenue and fire safety departments, is to identify and close down such educational institutions. The teams are not only issuing notices to the managements of schools, but also conducting awareness classes for parents and students waiting for admissions. Krishna district educational officer Devananda Reddy appealed to parents not to get their children admitted in unauthorised schools. He also asked school managements to immediately remove words like techno, Olympiad, e-school and global from their names. “The managements are trying to dupe innocent parents with attractive titles without even securing permission from the education department,” he said. 

The education department had already issued notices to around 150 unauthorised schools in Krishna district, of which 125 are located in the city. However, the department is not in a hurry to close down these illegal schools as it would affect the children already studying in them. 

In Guntur district, a task force headed by local tehsildar Tata Mohan Rao hasbeen conducting surprise inspections on illegal schools and imposing penalties to the tune of Rs 1 lakh for corporate schools and Rs 50,000 for small private schools. While several corporate schools are running many outlets with one licence, small schools do not have even basic infrastructure. 

In Nellore, 25 special Task Force teams headed by headmasters have been formed to inspect 633 schools in the district. 

“We have launched the drive against unauthorised schools as part of implementation of the Right to Education Act,” P Parvati, regional joint director, high school education, told TOI. She said special teams have been formed as nearly 11 of the 12 deputy DEO posts are laying vacant in the region.

June 18, 2013

Now, a cabinet sub-committee to regulate fees in private schools

HYDERABAD: The state cabinet on Monday decided to appoint a cabinet sub-committee to regulate tuition fee, term fee and other fees in private schools. In the backdrop of serious allegations that private schools are fleecing parents in the name of different categories of fee, the ministers requested chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to rein in corporate schools. Agreeing to this, the chief minister directed that a cabinet sub-committee be constituted to examine the issue and submit recommendations to bring relief to parents.
Kiran Kumar Reddy also prevailed upon his cabinet colleagues to give their nod for his pet programme, Bangaru Thalli, a girl child protection initiative. The cabinet, which met here on Monday, approved the bill and decided to place the same before the Assembly on Tuesday.

Contentious issues like the beneficiary girl child should be born in government hospital and compulsory enrolment in government school till Class V have been dropped from the bill. Earlier, some ministers raised concern over these issues and pointed that these conditions would actually make the scheme unpopular.

Heeding to their advice, the CM agreed to drop the conditions to avail the scheme. On the advice of some ministers, it was decided to modify the bill so that the final benefits would be handed over to the girl only after she completes her graduation.

PCC president
Botsa Satyanarayana and Panchayat Raj minister K Jana Reddy earlier expressed their reservations on the special status given to Bangaru Thalli scheme. While Jana Reddy was conspicuous by his absence in the cabinet meeting, surprisingly, Botsa Satyanarayana did not raise any objection during the meeting.

The cabinet also cleared the proposal to reserve seats for backward classes in the panchayat elections on the basis of district population. Several ministers raised objections over conducting elections on the basis of statewide BC reservations. The chief minister then agreed to consider districtwise census to decide on the BC reservations for panchayat polls.

June 17, 2013

Eenadu | 17th June, 2013 | Front Page news

June 16, 2013

Eenadu | 16June2013 | Page5

Central Minister Pallam Raju says there is some movement @ the national level to come up with a regulation to control fee's in private schools.

June 8, 2013

Under pressure, Airoli school cancels fee hike, waives fines

After pressure from parents, VPM International school, Airoli, has agreed to not hike fees for 2013-14. It has also agreed to waive fines on students who paid the fees late.

In a statement e-mailed to HT on Wednesday, PM Kamath, honorary secretary and managing trustee of the school, stated, “We have already informed parents that we have accepted their request that the fees of 2012-13 will be continued in 2013-14 as well, though it causes us considerable revenue loss.” He added that the school agreed to waive fines, which were legal, as a goodwill gesture.

However, parents who have been fighting the fee hike  are not happy with the statement. “Our dispute was against hiked fees charged under heads like visual aid, computer and activity fees. We were already paying the term and tuition fees but the school had rejected our cheques,” said a parent.

Candle march against fee hike in schools

KANPUR: The agitated parents took out a candle march against fee hike in private schools from Bharat Mata Pratima in Ghantaghar here on Friday. Around 250 parents along with their wards participated in the candle march to mark their protest. The march started from Ghantaghar and ended at Gandhi Pratima, Phoolbagh after passing through areas like Nayagaj, Birhana Road etc. Parents demanded that the steep fee hike proposed by majority of city schools should be confined to the limits of common man. "Most of the schools have hiked their fee exorbitantly. Some have even doubled the fee making it difficult for middle class parents to send their children to private schools," said Amit Khanna, a parent.

Mohit Singh, another parent said the fee hike cannot be justified by any of the excuses given by the school management and 20% increase every year is a huge hike in fee. The hiked fee is a burden on board students who are already paying high tution fees for the preparations of competitive exams.

Sunil, a parent of two school going daughters said, "During the inflation and with other economic burdens, the unjust hike in fee is no less than an atrocity on the parents. It is time that the state government should come forward and lend us support against the unjust fee hike in the same way as in recent cases the government supported parents in states like Delhi and Haryana."

He added that unless and until the school authorities bring down the school fee, the parents will not pay the increased fees. Shristi, another parent, argued that if the schools are not able to provide enough facilities for the students then they have no right to hike fee.

May 29, 2013

Meet the parents who fought ‘fleece’ in garb of school fees

Frustrated with ‘arrogant’ fleecing and overcharging of fees by their children’s school, a group of Delhiites move court against Summer Fields School, win a battle of fee for all parents in the capital — and, perhaps, across the country

His smile may have been demure but as Vinay Bhalla sat down in his apartment at Uday Park, in south Delhi, he showed the ease and confidence of a man who has fought a long, hard battle and has emerged a winner.

And that he sure has.

Having taken his daughters’ school, Summer Fields School in south Delhi’s Kailash Colony, to court along with other petitioners for charging high quarterly fees, the respite came on April 10, when the Delhi high court ruled that private schools cannot charge more than a month’s fee in advance. The judgment came on a petition filed by 10 parents of children studying in Summer Fields.

Bhalla, a member of Summer Fields School parents’ association, a registered body formed in 2009 by a group of parents protesting fee hike and other “irregularities”, said he and other members of the association feel the judgment came at a time when they had lost all hope.

While rules under the Delhi School Education Act-1973 do not permit schools to charge fees in any mode other than a monthly basis, as the HC bench pointed out while delivering its verdict, only a handful of parents are aware of it. Bhalla and company’s fight against the odds, while running the risk of harassment of their children at the school, is thus no little effort. In fact, it’s nothing short of heroic in its own way.

As social jurist Ashok Agarwal put it, “The judgment is binding for all non-aided private schools in Delhi. The rule was already in place and the high court has (now) clarified the rules.”

Genesis of the problem
Stressing that they formed the association following a rise in alleged irregularities over the last few years, several parents said it was a move to give a legal platform to their protests.

Fee hike, Bhalla said, was one of the earliest grievances of the parents. The school management, he claimed, has been “extorting money from us” in the name of the sixth pay commission, which raised salary levels of teachers and other staff. “But the money was not given to the staff,” he alleged. “In 2006, the monthly fee (at Summer Fields), inclusive of all funds, was Rs 1,500. In 2013, it is Rs 4,400 — a 300-percent hike in seven years. When we started feeling the financial pinch, we began digging in.”

Governance Now’s efforts to contact the school for their comments on the developments did not bear fruit.

Ajay Chopra, president of the Summer Fields School parents’ association, was the first parent to protest against the rising fees and other alleged irregularities. Slowly, other parents, too, joined ranks with him.

The association filed a case against fee hike in 2009.

The association’s vice-president, Rahul Chaddha, said initially Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress represented the school management as the defence lawyer on a few occasions. “How can the ruling party’s spokesman fight a case against the parents for the benefit of some businessman?” he asked.

He said the association had decided to stop paying fees for two quarters in protest. “(But) it was a huge blow for us when Justice Sistani, who was hearing the case, told us on the request of defence counsel Singhvi that he will hear our case only after we clear the fees (dues),” he said.

Singhvi later backed out of the case when parents objected to his presence as lawyer for the school.

A small victory but problems galore

While the litigation was on, a report by the Justice Anil Dev Singh committee, formed on the court’s orders to look into allegations of unlawful fee hike, pointed out that “development fee” collected by Summer Fields for the year 2009-10 and 2010-11 was not justified and ought to be refunded with an annual interest of 9 percent.

The committee had submitted its report on March 1, 2013, though the school is yet to refund the money, Bhalla said. “The committee does not specify a date by which the money has to be returned. And that is the dilemma in our country: the order has been issued but there is no committee to monitor implementation of that order,” he said. “The school management says, ‘We have no money. Where do we give it from’?”

“The report of the committee is not a challengeable order,” he added.

Chaddha alleged: “The school is inventing ways to circumvent the rules. Earlier, the fee receipt had heads like development fee, pupil’s fund, activity fee etc. But after Justice Anil Dev Singh committee’s report, they (school authorities) have removed all heads — they now charge only under the head ‘fees’.”
Vandana Sharma, a single parent initially based in south Delhi who moved to Greater Noida subsequently, said: “I admitted my three children to Summer Fields because it suited a middle-class family like mine. But after the management changed hands and the school hiked fees it became increasingly difficult for me.”

Sharma said she had to sell her jewellery at one point to pay school fees for her children. When the financial constraint became too difficult, she finally withdrew her children from the school. “It was difficult for me to keep up the fight. The then principal had told me, very arrogantly, to raise my source of income (to continue paying the fees),” she said.

“Now my children study in a convent school with moderate fees. My eldest daughter, who was in class X (when she had to pull her out), could not get admission in any school and lost a year.”

“The school is polite with those associated with the parents’ association since they have now seen our clout,” Bhalla said. “But with others, they are abominably rude. We have received complaints from parents who have been told to take their wards to other schools when they displayed concern over the fee hike.”

Chaddha said he is scared at times that his daughter would face the repercussion of his fight against the school management. “My daughter suffered embarrassment for my principles — the school held back her admit card before her board exams.”

But alerted by insiders well in time, Chaddha moved court and got a verdict against the school’s decision. “The court ruled that admit card cannot be held back,” he said. “We do not want to overpower the management but want it to run smoothly.”

Another parent, Yashbir Bakshi, also said initially they were apprehensive of “retaliatory action” from the school. “It was not easy for us to move court, as most parents are afraid that their children will be harassed.”

In 2010, the parents’ association filed another case against quarterly fees charged by the school.

Little support, sustained fight 
Parents claimed the response from the government has been very casual, and said they smell a nexus between officials and financial lobbies.

“It’s very frustrating that whatever we do makes no difference. In fact, instead of backing off the school is getting arrogant by the day,” Chaddha said.
Both Chaddha and Bhalla said Summer Fields has made it compulsory for students to subscribe to the student’s edition of a national daily for an annual charge of Rs 275. “Three children from my home go to the same school. What do I do with the same newspaper? I am not a junk dealer!” Chaddha said.

Pointing out another issue, Bipin Arora, general secretary of the association, said the school charges Rs 10 per day for fees delayed. “We now have become bolder and have refused to pay late fees but some parents are not aware of the rules and are exploited by the school,” he said.

According to rule 166 of Delhi School Education Act-1973, a fine for late payment of fees, or contributions due to a school, can be charged at the rate of five paise per day, after the 10th day of the month for which the default continues.

Rule 165 of the act says all fees and contributions payable to a school by a student shall be payable by the 10th day of the month in which they are due. 
Lawyer Agarwal said, “The school will have to start implementing the court’s order on monthly fees immediately but it might not implement the order of the Anil Dev Singh committee (on refunding development fee in 2009-10 and ’10-11) so easily. They can raise objections in HC”.

While the parents are happy for now with the way things have turned out, Bhalla, calling it a battle of principle, said, “Education is a fundamental right and we will fight this commercialisation of education.”

As for support from other Delhiites, he rued: “At the end of the day, we did this (take their children’s school to court) for all parents of Delhi. But we have not received adequate support. We have held many protests — in front of the school, at Jantar Mantar and even blocked roads. But we faced resistance from many parents who said we were wasting our time and ruining the career of our children.”

School seeks Rs 5 crore from parents who opposed fee hike

MUMBAI: In what activists have termed a 'terror tactic' , a well-known Thane school has sought damages of Rs 5 crore from the parents of two students for allegedly defaming the institution while protesting a fee hike. A law firm representing the trust behind Billabong High International School at Wagle Estate, Thane, sent the legal notice on May 13. It states that the two parents circulated texts and emails accusing the school of "charging high fees and providing inferior quality of education" . Contending that they ran a "vilification campaign" with "mala fide intention" , it calls upon the parents to "tender an unconditional apology... in seven days" . "You are also called upon to pay damages to the tune of Rs 5 crore for the loss suffered (by the school)," it reads. If the parents fail to comply, the school will initiate "civil action". Activist asks edu dept to stop Thane school's 'terror tactic' 

The two parents who received legal notices from Billabong High International School, Thane, demanding damages of Rs 5 crore were expectedly in shock. 

"Just because we fought for the future of our children, the school is taking out its frustration on us. We would have agreed to pay the hiked fee had the school improved its quality over the years but it did not. We therefore questioned the increase ," said one of the parents. The notice was sent to two of the around 1,500 parents who protested the over-10 % hike proposed last October. 

Activists said the Thane school's move was clearly meant to scare parents into submission . "It appears educational institutions have begun frightening parents with legal action. The education department should put an end to this terrorism," said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education. 

The school's managing trustee, Sandeep Goenka, said Billabong Thane proposed a 12% fee hike after a gap of two years. The revision was suggested to take effect from the 2013-2014 academic year. "Following rules, we asked for parents' consent. While most parents have consented to pay the revised fee, a handful are creating trouble for us," he said. "We were forced to start defamation action against a couple of parents since they have been... instigating other parents." 

Parents countered that the school sought the consent of precisely five class representatives (parents representing a class) before making the fee hike official. Aggrieved parents took the issue to the zilla parishad , which asked the school to stay the fee hike and resolve the matter with the parents. But the school insisted on the increased fees, allege the parents. Parents requested for the school's audited accounts to understand the hike, but got none. "The school already charges a huge fee though its education quality has not improved. The school's principal has changed thrice in three years," added another parent.

May 25, 2013

Schools with fancy names to face derecognition

HYDERABAD: The government will derecognize schools which carry fancy titles like "Techno", "Olympiad" or "International", a top official announced on Friday. The secondary education department has ordered schools to remove all such qualifying terms that are used to attract students or face immediate action.

"The schools teach the syllabus which the state board prescribes. There is no value addition in education happening here. The names are meant to mislead parents," said Usha Rani, director of school education (DSE).

Thousands of schools in the state have fancy names like "Techno school," "IIT academy," "Olympiad school" or "International school", though they teach the state board syllabus without any value addition.

Officials said these schools have a higher fee structure ranging anywhere between Rs 45,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh per annum and said the department had acted upon petitions against such schools.

The move leaves several prominent schools in the state with no option but to change the names or move court against the order. "It's a management decision of naming schools and the names are justified due to the kind of quality of education they provide," said a spokesman of the Narayana group of institutions. Other institution heads said they are consulting the legal experts for the next course of action.

Meanwhile, Usha Rani said two years ago, the government had issued a circular asking school managements to drop the names, but this was not followed as the penalty for non-adherence was a meagre fine of Rs 10,000. "If they continue to carry the misleading titles this year, the department will cancel recognition," said Rani.

A senior official with the department said school managements have been naming their institutions without consulting the concerned authorities.

"The managements obtain recognition under one name, but as part of their marketing strategy, they change the name to something fancier, which is an offence under the AP Education Act," said an official.

Child rights organizations which have been fighting for a change in the naming system said the order could bring about a desired change in the education system in the state.

"School education in the state has become a lucrative business and hence the growth of institutions which use fancy names to set themselves apart. Once they drop their fancy titles the managements will really have to work hard to give the institutions an edge over others," said Achyuta Rao, president of Balalahakkula Sangham, a child rights NGO.

Smaller schools in the city also welcomed the move and said using fancy titles, the corporate schools in the city have been attracting a lot of students.

"This had caused the death of several regular schools which used to give good education at a low cost. We have been opposing the fancy names for several years," said S Srinivas Reddy, president, Recognized Schools Managements' Association.

May 22, 2013

Sakshi | 13 May, 2013 | Main Page

May 6, 2013

578 ‘illegal’ schools face closure this year

HYDERABAD: As many as 578 unrecognized schools in the city and Ranga Reddy district face closure from June this year, which means that around 1.16 lakh students could be left in the lurch and may have to take admission elsewhere.

Cracking the whip for not applying for recognition, the school education department published a list of private English and Telugu medium schools in the two districts on Sunday. These schools will not be allowed to admit fresh students in the next academic year, officials said, adding that the list would be put up on the department website for the benefit of parents.

"The list is expected to be a guide for parents who want to enrol their children in schools. These (unrecognized) schools could be closed if they do not apply for affiliation under the state board within three months," said A Subba Reddy, district education officer, Hyderabad. The government is all set to close down more unrecognized schools in the future, officials said.

Meanwhile, the education department has decided to help the students of such 'illegal' schools. "The students can take admission in nearby government schools if they do not get admission in private schools," Reddy said.

However, experts say many students may not want to opt for government schools. "Parents may have opted for these unrecognized schools as most of them provide English medium education. They may not want to opt for government schools, most of which provide education in Telugu medium," said N Ramana Reddy from Save Our Education Society. Students should be given the option of studying in reputed and recognized private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, he added.

Under the RTE Act, 25 per cent of the seats in private schools are reserved for children from socio-economically weaker backgrounds. Educationists said that instead of just closing down unrecognized schools, officials should take care to first implement the RTE act. "The act has not been implemented in the state even three years after it was instituted. The state government should take extra effort to implement the act now as it is cracking the whip on unrecognized private schools," said R Venkat Reddy, director, M V Foundation.

April 20, 2013

March 11, 2013

Sakshi | Hyderabad Edition | Page 1 & 2 | 11th March, 2013

February 25, 2013

Schools can’t run like shops, says HC

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday warned that private schools across the country could soon become “teaching shops”, completely commercialising education if nursery classes were not brought under Right to Education Act. Directing the Centre to consider an amendment to the RTE Act, a bench comprising chief justice D Murugesan and justice VK Jain said: “Importance of education is applicable to every child right from admission to nursery classes till it passes eighth standard. There is an obligation on the state to provide free and compulsory education to children. Educational institutions cannot be allowed to run as teaching shops. There should be equal opportunity for each child.”

The court observation came on a plea by Ashok Aggarwal of NGO social jurist, which challenged the nursery admission norms, saying that under the garb of the points system, many schools were accepting heavy donations by providing seats in the management quota.

“Though we have held that Right to Education Act is not applicable to nursery schools, in our opinion there cannot be any different yardstick to be adopted for education to children up to the age of 14 years. The state should consider a necessary amendment to the RTE Act so that children seeking admission to nursery schools should also be able avail its benefits,” the court said.

The HC said section 13 of the Act, which prohibited screening procedure at the school entry level (class one), will become meaningless if it is allowed during admission to nursery classes.

During the hearing, the court had said that government had no authority give unbridled powers to schools to frame their own admission criterion. “Only draw of lots that is a random selection which excludes any kind of classification is to be followed and other such as sibling, first child, alumni, parents, profession, etc, are against the RTE Act which prohibited any kind of discrimination,” the court had said.

February 14, 2013

Karnataka HC: All children in private school must get free education

In an order having far-reaching consequences, the Karnataka High Court has held that all students aged between six and 14 in private schools are eligible for free education and not just those from poor families gaining admission under a 25 per cent quota fixed by the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act.

In an interim order on a batch of petitions on Tuesday, Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh said Article 21A of the Constitution guaranteed free and compulsory education to all children in that age group.

The State government should reimburse the fees charged by private schools, he ruled. To arrive at a reasonable fee for reimbursement, , the Education Department should organise a seminar with the stakeholders on March 10.

“It is for the State and Central governments to work out the fee that has to be paid by children in the age group 6-14 and to see that proper arrangements are made to indemnify the institutions concerned on behalf of the children,” the judge said.

While some petitions claimed free education under Article 21A, others complained about the demand made by private schools for a fee in excess of the amount prescribed under the Karnataka Education Act. Private institutions had filed petitions questioning certain provisions in the Right to Education Act and the rules.

As for admissions made in 2012-13, the court directed the private institutions not to prevent students who are agitating over the fee structure from attending classes or tests. They should approach the State government seeking reimbursement of the fee to be paid by these students.

The court asked the Education Department to discuss at the seminar what would be the reasonable fees with representatives of private institutions, associations of teachers and parents, the Indian Council of Secondary Education and the Central Board of Secondary Education. The authorities should discuss the complaints of teachers that unaided and minority institutions were not paying pay scales fixed.

Based on the outcome of the deliberations, Justice Ramesh said, the Union and the State governments can take policy decisions on reimbursement of fee and earmark funds. The Court adjourned the hearing till April 16 and directed the two governments to submit a report based on the outcome of the seminar.

February 13, 2013

Public school turns out to be fake; owner arrested

Hyderabad: Will the real DPS please stand up? After Rajeev Gandhi International Airport police arrested the managing partner of a ‘fake’ school located at Shamshabad on Tuesday, questions are being raised about how many such fake schools are thriving in the city.

According to officials at the District Education Office, Rangareddy, the management of the school in question, named Delhi Public School (DPS), had not submitted the required documents before opening the school last year and the incident came to light now following complaints lodged by some parents.

Officials reported that around 253 such unrecognized schools existed across the city which have not submitted proper documents like lease deed, infrastructure particulars, traffic NOC etc. Moreover, officials added that in some cases, school managements even submit fake documents in a bid to cash in on the booming business of education here. “Last month, we booked cases against six city schools which had submitted fake traffic NOCs to us,” said A Subba Reddy, district education officer, Hyderabad.

Officials, however,said there were no immediate plans to crackdown on all the unrecognized schools. The only action being taken against them is barring its students to appear for the class X board examinations. These schools, however, manage the issue by enrolling their students as private candidates for the examination, but some face a bleak future. The arrested in the case of DPS Shamshabad has been identified as Syed Farooq Hussain of Bahadurpura. In June 2012, Farooq along with Subhash Chandra Bose and MA Nazeeb of Bahadurpura opened two schools under the name ‘Delhi Public School’ in Shamshabad and Attapur.

According to police, several parents enrolled their students at both these schools thinking that they are branches of popular Delhi Public School chain. In the school’s Shamshabad branch, currently 140 students are enrolled and at Attapur branch there are over 200 students, police said.

It was not immediately clear what would be the fate of these students, but officials said other than getting admitted in a recognized school there was no way out. For the last four months, the accused reportedly stopped paying salaries to teachers and they stopped taking classes. On February 8, the accused locked the school at Shamshabad and switched off their phones, they also stopped visiting the Attapur branch.

Suspecting foul play, one of the parents, Ashok God, lodged a complaint with the RGI Airport police against the school management on February 9. “After the complaint was lodged, we cross-checked about the school with the Mandal Education Officer (MEO) and then we realised that the school does not have recognition from any authorized body. The MEO told us that they have issued three notices to the school management for operating the institution without obtaining proper permission from the government,” RGI Airport SI M Kasi Viswanath said.

Based on the complaint, police booked a case under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC against the three managing partners of the school. Police said the accused had collected hefty amounts from the parents at the time of admissions. Acting on a specific alert, police arrested one of the accused, Syed from his house in Bahadurpura on Tuesday. During the interrogation, Syed told police that it was his associate Bose’s idea to use the popular brand name Delhi Public School to attract parents. He was produced before the court and remanded in judicial custody. A man hunt has been launched to nab the other accused.

Times of India | Hyderabad | 13th February, 2013 | Page2

February 7, 2013

State to regulate fee in private schools

Hyderabad: The state government has decided to regulate the fee structure in private schools from the coming academic year (2013-14).

According to minister for secondary education K. Parthasarathy, the government is in the process of putting in place a fee regulatory mechanism for private schools along the lines of private professional colleges before the new academic year starts in June.

Speaking to reporters at the Secretariat, Parthasarathy said the government had been receiving several complaints from parents about schools resorting to unjustifiable fee hikes at the start of every academic year.

Failed to regulate fee, mantri admits
Admitting that the government had failed to regulate fees in private schools despite issuing several orders in this regard since 2009, minister for secondary education K. Parthasarathy said officials were studying earlier orders to plug the loopholes and to identify what went wrong in regulating fees in private schools, especially when the government had successfully regulated fees in professional colleges by constituting the Admissions and Fee Regulatory Committee with retired judges for the purpose.

YSR had constituted a committee in 2009 to regulate fees in private schools after parents and students had taken to the streets to protest indiscriminate fee hikes by various schools. The committee had come out with several recommendations to regulate fees and the government had issued orders incorporating these recommendations in the same year.

However, the schools had challenged the orders in the AP High Court and had obtained a stay. The governement got the stay order removed in 2010 but is yet to take any steps about the fee hikes.

February 4, 2013

Parents toil for kids’ admissions

Hyderabad: With admission season in full swing in top private schools, parents are frantically trying their luck in multiple institutes. Parents looking to get their kids into top-class schools for the academic year 2013-14 have lamented the tedious process involved and rising expendiature.

“I had spent nearly Rs 10,000 just on application forms of various schools with each institutes charging Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for per application form,” said a city parent who did not wish to be named, fearing that it may jeopardise his ward’s chances of getting a seat.

“At some well-known schools such as Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and P Obul Reddy School, we were not even allowed to enter the campus as the officials told us they had already received around 6,000 applications for just 60 seats,” said C Prasad, another city parent who started scouting schools as early as September last year.

Prasad went on to elaborate another problem faced by many parents - varying admission schedules followed by city schools. He explained that he had spent at least Rs 50,000 in caution deposits at various schools, as a back-up in case his child did not get into his preferred choice, Bhavan’s which had its dates scheduled later than the rest.

The sky-high pre-admission expenditure has only added to the burden with the fees at popular schools going through the roof. Sources said that in schools like Meridian, Future Kids and Rockwell International, the fees could range from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh.

Insiders said that in the initial stages of admission, they charge anything between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 for which a receipt for around Rs 5,000 is given under ‘caution deposit’ and the rest is under ‘development fund’ for which no receipt is given.

Parents said that a streamlined or centralised process for the top 10 or 20 schools in the city would make the process much easier. “Our anxiety levels have shot up drastically since October when we started looking for admission,” said Niranjana Prabhu, a parent and resident of Begumpet. “We spent late nights researching schools online and discussing with other parents. My husband also had to take a few days off from work only for this. It is a very taxing process,” she added.

Times of India | Hyderabad | 4th February 2013 | Page 2

February 1, 2013

Private schools go on advertisement spree in city

Hyderabad: Jack of all trades seems to be a passé, if the latest advertisements of city schools aretobebelieved, a master of all trades is what they can make out of every child.

With a sharp increase in the number of international andcorporateschoolsin the city in the past three years, the fierce competition among these institutes has now overtaken the advertisement space in thecity, andin a bidfor the ‘bestholistic education’ tag, schools are now shelling out big bucks for publicity. Insiders in the advertising field revealed that these schools are now willing to invest as much asRs10lakh to Rs 15 lakh per month for long periods to catch the eye of the parents and kids. Surprisingly, the same schools were reluctant to spend even Rs 1 lakh per month on outdoor hoardings and adstillthree years ago.

“Schools are constantly trying to prove why they are better than the rest. Hence, they are going ahead with advertisement propaganda about facilities they offer and how they encourage the child’s creativity etc,” said Kakoli Chakrabarty, academic executive officer at RequelfordInternational School atRampally, which has a special team of officials to take care of advertisement and publicity. She further said at least 10 new international and corporate schools have come up in the city in the past couple of years. “Faced with such a stiff competition, advertising has become highly essential,” she added. Something on the lines of ‘Mathematician + Musician’ seems to be the mantra that all schools are using to grab as many eyeballs as possible.Itisimpossible to miss the larger-than-life hoardings on every major street, with smiling kids posing with trophies or juggling a testtube and a football.

The taglines revolve around several variants of phrases like ‘Teaching leaders of tomorrow’, ‘Encouraging curiosity’ to ‘Where children learn to be winners’, and ‘The school that makes a difference’ etc. Some advertisements also give a list of facilities offered by these schools like residential, swimming pool, science lab, AC classes, school bus etc. The theme of these ads is only a response to popular demand. Officials of internationalschoolsin thecity reported that one of the most frequently asked questions by parents is ‘Do you have a swimming pool?’ followed by queries for other state-of-the-art amenities. “All ads now strive to show the balance between Einstein and Tendulkar and the various facilities offered for the convenience of busy working parents,” said Fawad Ahmed, senior account executive at a city advertising agency here. The cut throat competition among schoolshas got advertising companies rejoicing. “There has been a 100% increase in the advertisement business from schools in the past three years, especially during February toApril,” said Surendra Nath, chief operating officer of Prakash Arts, an outdoor advertising in thecity.

Times of India | Hyderabad | 1st February, 2013 | Page 4

January 18, 2013

Parents complain about fee hike

Hyderabad: City parents, who are feeling the pinch of fee hike in schools, have lodged a complaint with the secondary education department seeking action against four schools for demanding hefty capitation fee in the name of building development fund.

The Hyderabad School Parents’s Association (HSPA) has already launched protests against dozen top schools for hiking fee ranging between 5% and 15%. Some of the schools have increased the fee for the consecutive year. Parents complained that the schools had also increased the capitation fee by 2% to 3%. As per the Right to Education Act, charging capitation fee is a punishable offence and the education department says it needs to collect evidence against the accused school managements before taking action. The secondary education department has asked the district education officer to conduct an inquiry. “The schools cannot be held guilty unless charges are proved. The inquiry will take more than three weeks to complete,” said a senior official of the department. TNN

Times of India | Hyderabad | Page 3 | January 18, 2013

January 15, 2013

Parents cry foul as Hyderabad schools hike fees

HYDERABAD: The admission season is just beginning and several schools in the city have already announced up to15% hike in their fee structure. While about a dozen top schools which are currently charging fee between Rs 45,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh have hiked the tuition charges by 5 to 15%, parents associations in the city are demanding the state government to control unjustified hike in fee.

Some of the schools which have increased the fee this year are those which had implemented a fee hike last year too. Hyderabad Schools Parents' Association (HSPA) will petition the state government if unjustified fee hikes are not monitored, HSPA representative said. Parents said that the schools which have hiked the fee include Delhi Public School and Oxford. More schools could announce their hikes in the next month, parents predicted.

The parents associations in the city pointed out that the state government had promised them in 2011 that fee hike in schools will be monitored to prevent any additional financial burden on them. The government had decided to come up with a new act to prevent private schools from increasing fees every academic year.

When asked about the laxity in implementing the act, K Parthasarathi, minister for secondary education said that following the example of Tamil Nadu, the state government will enact the act before the commencement of the next academic year. The Act will also lay out rules that will have to be followed by the secondary education department while granting recognition to private schools.

The state's initiative for the new Act is part of the mandate of the Right to Education (RTE) Act that stipulates new legislation to control private schools. Also, a high court order issued in 2010 had directed the department to come up with fresh rules of fee regulation.

"The court had directed the school education department to come out with new rules as the old GO (Ms No 91) was issued in a hurry and had several flaws. If the government is planning to come out with new regulations before the commencement of the next academic year, many parents will be relieved," said Kamal Malliramani, a member HSPA.

According to HSPA records, several city schools have already hiked their fee structure by 10% to 15% for the coming academic year. "If a new legislation is put in place, there will be some amount of fear among private schools and unjustified fee-hike might stop," said Malliramani.

HSPA said the state government should force the schools to make their fee structure a public document like in Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, private school managements said that they would welcome the move only if fee regulation is introduced across the board. "No schools including international and corporate schools should be exempted from regulation," said Srinivas Reddy, convener, Recognised Schools' Managements' Association.