School fees : Survey shows up to 20% hike this year; parents seek correction

Children , parents and members of Haryana parents forum for education protesting against fee hike in private schools in New Delhi .

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More than half of all parents surveyed in a countrywide study have said that the school fees of their children were hiked between 11 and 20% this year, highlighting the mounting cost of quality education in India.

A study by localcircles.com — an online neighbourhood network — comprising 9,000 parents and grandparents reported 54% people as saying that school increased fees by between 11% and 20%. Fifteen per cent said the hike was more than 20% and 31% said the jump was between 0 and 10%. The survey was done in September 2016.

The findings confirm a common grouse of parents across the country: That as schools become more privatised and government institutes fall behind, affording quality education for most middle-class families is becoming a stiff challenge. Some governments – such as that in Delhi – have tried to rein in fees but with varying degrees of success.

“Private schools have been hiking their fee without stating any genuine reason for it. We are fighting for fee regulation, but private schools are running a monopoly since the government schools are not up to the mark,” said Ajay Rai, president, Jharkhand State Parents Association.

There was regional variation captured in the survey as well. More than 75% parents from Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Goa said that school has increased the fee by more than 10%. Around 50 -75% parents from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Delhi said the hike has been more than 10%. Only Gujarat and Bihar parents said schools increased the fee by less than 10%.

Parents in Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh and other cities have held protests and sent memorandums to state governments seeking intervention to put an end to the arbitrary fee hikes. The Uttarakhand government said it had decided to act on the parents’ complaints. “We will regulate the fee hike by public schools and fix a cap for the same to provide relief to parents,” state education minister Arvind Pandey told HT.

In Madhya Pradesh, parents told HT that almost all schools had increased fees by between from 10% and 28% in the name of improving facilities.

Amit Taksali from an organisation of parents, ‘Jago Abhibhavak Jago’, said: “The schools are increasing fees every year without consulting the parents. I have read the bylaws of CBSE and it clearly states that the school administrations should consult the parents before taking a decision on fee hike.”

“Some parents have admitted their students in low profile schools due to the fees hike. The high profile schools are behaving autocratically and creating trouble for middle class families,” he added.

School education minister for state Deepak Joshi said a bill to regulate the fees would be approved by cabinet soon.

In Uttarakhand, fees were hiked by 25-30% in schools, ostensibly for quality education. “The types of facilities provided, maintenance of infrastructure and high salary of teachers make it necessary to hike fee,” said Prem Kashyap, president of Principals Progressive School Association.

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