Parents are on the warpath against school managements in Andhra Pradesh. This after there was an unprecedented hike in fees in several schools. The government has stepped in to regulate, but will it work?
The outcome will be keenly watched by parents and schools across the country as it could set a precedent where parents are ultimately able to have a voice that's heard by schools.
It is a double blow for parents like Nivedita. At this time of pay cuts and job losses, schools in Andhra Pradesh have hiked fees this academic year from anywhere between 15 per cent to even 100 per cent. For the first time, parents have come together to stand up and speak out.
"In each family there will be three kids going to school. Where will we get the money in these times of recession? How can we pay 60 to 70 thousand rupees for each child?'' asked a worried Nivedita.
Schools say quality comes at a price.
"Cost of all items like training aids, infrastructure and salaries has gone up. There are DA hikes of 12 per cent every year and therefore there is a recurring hike in the expenditure,'' said Captain Alokesh Sen (Retd), Prinicipal, Hyderabad Public School.
The government has stepped in and formed a five-member fee regulation committee. The panel is probing irregularities committed by school managements.
"Fee of a school should basically take care of the maintenance cost and probably a little developmental cost. It cannot be a situation where a school wants to set up a new school in one year and it wants to collect the entire developmental cost of the new school from the students in one year,'' said Navin Mittal, Collector, Hyderabad.
Schools should not become mere teaching shops. So the government wants to dictate what fee a school can charge. But the irony is that after promising the right to education, the government has not been able to get its act together to ensure quality in its own schools, pushing more and more children into the private sector.