Amid the uproar by parents over fee hikes in private and unaided schools, a Pune-based non-governmental organisation has demanded that schools disclose their expenses and income before deciding the fee. The information on expenses and earnings must be made available to parents on the schools’ websites, their prospectus or even through notices, demanded System Correcting Movement (SYSCOM), the NGO.
“We have nothing against school managements. All we want is that schools clarify their expenses and clearly tell us how much they are increasing the fee by. If there’s transparency, parents can decide whether they can afford the fee and send their children to the school,” said Harish Butale, founder and chairperson of Mahaparents, a state-level parents’ organisation associated with SYSCOM.
According to SYSCOM, which has also derived a formula to calculate fee hike every year, a maximum of 13 per cent hike over the previous year’s fee is justifiable. The NGO has proposed that the fee be hiked taking the previous year’s expense as the base. At present, the system of fee hike takes the previous year’s fee as the base and schools are not obliged to disclose their income or expenses.
“Taking into account an 8 per cent increase for development purposes and a hike of 5 per cent, the schools can hike upto 13 per cent. The schools, most of which are run by charitable trusts, must not aim for profit. Hence, considering their expenses, a hike of 13 per cent will help them function smoothly,” said Rajendra Dharankar, chairperson, SYSCOM, at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday. The NGO also alleged that the state was siding with the school managements and promoting privatisation of education. The allegations came in the light of a hearing on the school fee hike issue by state education minister Vinod Tawde in Pune. The minister on Monday heard the cases of six schools out of 18 against which parents had raised concerns. According to the minister, the hearing was to understand the concerns and difficulties of the schools. The issues will now be brought to the notice of a Fee Regulating Committee. Tawde has, however, said strict action would be taken against schools found guilty of overcharging.