Bengaluru: School admission season is at its peak and parents in Bengaluru are an agitated lot. They are demanding regulation to what they say is rampant and often steep fee hikes by the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools in the city.
Parents claim some schools hike fee by 15 to 26 per cent ever year and that the fee has doubled in four to six years in several of these schools.
The parents allege apart from the tuition fee, additional money in the name of books, expensive branded clothes and shoes are collected, which adds up to a substantial sum annually. Many are questioning the logic behind such steep increase.
"Inflation is hovering around 6 per cent, the salary class is not getting any salary hike more than 9 per cent in the last few years. Then if you see, going by the survey, from 2005 to 2015 the fee has been hiked or increased by about 150 per cent," said Mahesh, a parent.
Even parents who are getting their children admitted to pre-nursery or grade one are worried on whether they will be able to make ends meet if the fee keeps increasing in a similar fashion.
"I need to see that after going to sixth or seventh standard I may look for a loan from the bank. That is the kind of situation we are going into now," said Deepak, who has visited five to six schools to get his son admitted to nursery.
But the school managements argue that it is only a handful of schools that are spoiling the name of all private schools. The association of independent CBSE schools argues that if there is a regulation mechanism then it has to apply for all - ICSE, CBSE and state board schools.
"We also feel it is unreasonable to raise 15 to 20 per cent. The point is, if some errant schools raise the fees, you should not bring a law to control all the schools. Freedom to function another is liberty to manipulate their own resources and manage their programs. That will not be possible if the financial resources are restricted," said Dr Sreenivasan, the founder of managements of independent CBSE schools association, Karnataka.
Meanwhile, there seems to be some hope for parents. Agencies reported that Education Minister Prakash Javadekar stressed on the need for a regulatory mechanism.
"Even the state government officials cannot go to the CBSE schools. I will put an end to this and there will be accountability as all these schools have to offer good education and charge reasonable fees," news agency PTI quoted the minister as saying.
The Karnataka government in March tabled a bill amending the Karnataka Education Act bringing all CBSE and ICSE schools under its purview and is working on a framework to cap the hikes in school fees after taking expenditure into account.