Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finally, relief for harried parents

Finally, relief for harried parents

Baishali Adak, April 16, 2013:
The Delhi HC has prohibited private schools from charging fees on a quarterly basis.
For Amrinder Chaddha, resident of Mayur Vihar and father of three school-going children, nothing could have come as a more pleasant surprise, “I knew that some parents had filed a case against schools charging fees quarterly, but didn’t expect a judgement to come so soon. Last week, I picked up the morning newspaper and was (gladly) shocked to read that the High Court has asked schools to come back to the monthly fee charging system.”

“I can’t tell you how relieved I am. Paying quarterly school fee for my three children, amounting to Rs 75,000 put together, was driving me bankrupt every three months.”
Amrinder’s sentiments are shared by lakhs of parents with school going kids across the Capital. To add to their reprieve, besides orders for monthly fee collection, the HC has also allowed parents to deposit the fee by the 10th of every month. So schools cannot harass parents or levy fine any time of the month.

Sumit Vohra, Founder, Admissionsnursery.com – a website for parents with school-going kids, says, “No one really knows when schools started extracting fees on a quarterly basis, but with no authority to stop them, some schools started demanding half-yearly and yearly school fee too. I know of one school which has asked parents to deposit a lump sum of Rs 12 lakh for 14 years of their child’s school life at admission itself. This amount will then be returned after the child finishes class XIIth.

Most obviously, the school will invest the money somewhere and reap interest on it. What do you call this if not comercialisation of education?”

Sumit adds for good measure that such practices on the part of schools are anti-child, violative of the fundamental rights of parents as guaranteed under Articles 14, 21, 21A and 38 of the Constitution, read with provisions of the Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and the rules therein.

Collecting fee on a quarterly basis also gives rise to more malpractices from schools. Ashish Agarwal, who has a six-year-old son studying in a private school in Dwarka says, “In the name of quarterly fee, just before the summer vacations, schools charge us tuition, development and transport charges as well. I have often wondered why charge transport fee for the holiday period of 1.5 months when our children are not using their buses.”

When Metrolife spoke to Dr Saini, principal, DPS, RK Puram, he defended, “Quarterly fee collection was more convenient. Sometimes, in case of late fee depositing, the parents would be given a fortnight’s window period, then sent reminders. This process itself would take up a month. Nevertheless, now that the High Court has ordered monthly fee collection, we will go as per the ruling of the honourable judges.”

Educationists, however, say that such practices should not be started by private schools in the first place. Ashok Ganguly, former chairman, CBSE, says, “It is indeed sad that schools feel little sensitivity and responsibility towards the parents. It is also not a good sign that the courts have to intervene each time to ban such unjustified methods. School administrations must realise that they have to take the kids and their parents along in the journey of education. You cannot upset the parents and bring about good education.”

“I hope,” he adds, “that this ruling is extended to schools all over India now. After all, parents all over the country deserve this respite, not just the ones in Delhi.”

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