Parents cry foul over fee hike in Hyderabad schools

Hyderabad: A hike in the fee across several schools in the city has infuriated parents who demanded that the government must intervene and ensure they don't have to face trouble over payments every year. Some parents complained that the fee structure was altered without prior notice.

"There was no specific information from my children's school about the fee hike when I paid a part of the first term fee a week before the school reopened. So I was shocked when I visited the school and was asked to pay Rs 4,500 more," said Mahita Krishnamurthy, whose son and daughter study in a private school in Himayatnagar.

Another parent, N. Ravi Kumar, complained that the outgoing principal of a 'techno' school in Gaddiannaram had asked him to pay the academic year fee of Rs 35,000. After he left, the staff said he had to pay Rs 22,000 more! "The principal left and I don't know what to do as my child has already begun his academic year," he said.

The Hyderabad School Parents Association (HSPA) has decided to meet on Saturday at the Press Club in Somajiguda at 11 am to discuss the apathy of the government towards regulating the ever-increasing school fees of private schools'. "Not only do schools hike fees, they find different ways to empty our pockets, one of them being changing the school uniform so we'll be forced to buy new sets or from a particular vendor," said Venkat Sainath, an HSPA member.

Ramakanth Reddy, another parent, said that even small and mid-range high schools charge hefty amounts from parents for books, uniform and transport and library, among others and as caution deposit. "The schools have been doing this for several years now and it doesn't seem to stop. They find new reasons and tactics to loot us. Though they didn't hike the fee during the Covid-19 pandemic, they try charging extra for silly things," said another member of the HSPA.

A parent said that the school forced parents to purchase books only from the school, stating it was 'mandatory'. "I wasn't even given a receipt for the book set that cost close to Rs 2,000 for my daughter studying LKG (lower kindergarten)," he said. If he had bought the same books outside, he could have got it for Rs 1,230.

Several parents complained that the books sold are not those prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) which are less expensive and easy to find.

In 2017, the CBSE, in clear terms, warned schools to not force students to buy expensive textbooks produced by private publishers and said they should prefer those belonging to the NCERT or CBSE. In the advisory, it said that erring schools would be penalised if they indulged in commercial activities including selling books, uniforms, shoes and stationery items to students.

Citing rule 19.1 (ii) of the CBSE affiliation bye-laws, institutions such as societies, trusts and companies registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act-1956, parents said that schools are to run as a community service, and not as a business venture.

Parents hope that the government will regularise the 'astronomical fee' charged by private schools in Hyderabad and come up with a mechanism or a 'Fee Regulatory Bill' that is already implemented in several states to discourage schools that 'function as a business' and aim at profit alone.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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