In seven hours, over 680 parents had signed a petition directed to the Prime Minister’s Office against alleged profiteering resorted to by several schools. More are likely to join in. The campaign to rid education system of “malpractice” and prevent schools from making education just a business, is part of the two-pronged strategy of NGO Forum for Fairness.
The NGO has also urged parents to send letters to the PMO for the attention of the PM.
The online petition was launched on Tuesday to collect signatures to be forwarded to the PMO and HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s office.
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One of the parents said the letters sent by post would bear no stamps, and the PMO would have to pay double the money that stamps would have required. It is symbolic gesture to drive home the point that parents feel the pinch when schools arbitrarily jack up fees.
“We would like to register our protest against exorbitant and unjustified hike in school fees (up to 400% during last 10 years or so) by private schools. The government has failed to regulate fee or take action against schools profiteering from education. Shockingly, most schools resort to unethical and illegal practices by harassing / victimising / detaining and expelling our children. Therefore, we are compelled to bring it to your notice to kindly stop the education mafia from commercialisation of education,” reads the online petition.
Jayant Jain, president of FFE said the petition seeks to stop any fee hike until a review of existing fee structure of schools that charge more than an annual fees of Rs 20000 is done. The NGO has recommended that a government or statutory committee should fix the fee structure, and an executive body of PTA should be elected democratically as per High Court guidelines. The NGO has also urged schools not to compel students to buy uniforms and study materials from the school, and to regulate nursery admission.
In the recent years, Pune has seen a spate of protests by parents against fee hikes.
Sandeep Chauhan, parent of a student residing in Pimpri-Chinchwad who has been volunteering for FFE for last few years said that hundreds of parents are already signatories and emails have been sent to parent teacher associations.
“I think this is a cause that will unite all parents. Across the city we have seen expulsion of students from schools when parents protest against fee hike… there is no consultation with PTAs during fee hikes or even while deciding issues like conducting interviews during nursery admissions etc. In fact, in the letters sent by post, we haven’t attached any postage stamps as the PMO office will have to pay double and we want them to feel the pinch… like how we feel during fee hikes,” he said.
Abhijit Khaire, a signatory, says, “In the larger interest of parents, students and the sanctity of education, he signed the petition hoping the movement would gain momentum. “Before the elections, the PM himself in a public function in Pune had said that education has become a money-minting machine. He needs act on his words to change it.”Another parent says her child’s school not only increased fees but also puts pressure on parents to compulsorily buy food from the school. “What kind of bizarre demand is that? There is no end to these arbitrary decisions and that’s why we need a statutory body to look at these complaints,” she said.