438 schools yet to reply to notices
As the first argument on a petition against the Act is likely to take place in the Gujarat High Court on Monday, 438 schools in Ahmedabad are yet to submit either affidavits for charging within the limit or proposals for charging more to the Fee Regulatory Committees (FRCs).
The Ahmedabad zone that covers 10 districts, earlier this week, had directed the coordinator, District Education Officer (DEO) Navneet Mehta, to issue notices to erring schools that had neither responded in any form nor appealed to the Gujarat HC.
Calorx Public School
Affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education, Calorx Public School has already taken the entire annual fee of Rs 31,000 through post-dated cheques in March.
A parent of a Class I student said one quarter fee had already been debited from their bank accounts. “Now we have been asked to pay another installment. The school says it will decide on the extra fee later if the Gujarat HC decides against them or the FRC rejects their proposal of charging more,” said the parent.
As per the fee circular (2017-18), the school, which started English medium this year, has asked the parents to pay Rs 7,838 per quarter as tuition fee and annual charges, besides separate transportation fee.
For a new admission, the school is charging Rs 500 for forms and Rs 2,000 as processing and documentation fee. This is in addition to one-time admission fee of Rs 21,500. A few parents complained that the school had even asked to pay Rs 24,000 as “donation” for admissions to Nursery.
Calorx Public School spokesperson Unmesh Dixit said, “We are taking quarterly fee as per government regulations. The decision on the amount is yet to be taken as the school has appealed to the Gujarat HC.”
Delhi Public School
CBSE-affiliated DPS-Bopal, that claimed to record maximum number of high-scorers in Class X and XII this year, is charging Rs 72,000 in kindergarten, excluding stationery and school uniform. Parents have already submitted four post-dated cheques of Rs 18,000 for each quarter, in March. A parent said he earns Rs 20,000-25,000 per month, out of which Rs 18,000 is spent on the education of his child quarterly. Unmesh Dixit, also the spokesperson for DPS-Bopal, said even its case is pending in the HC.
The annual fee of Anand Niketan, Maninagar, ranges between Rs 1.15 lakh and Rs 2.3 lakh. The parents have already deposited two installments, one in March and the other in early June.
Parents claimed that the “tuition fee” is only Rs 15,000, but there are various other charges amounting to over Rs 2 lakh. “If we protest or demand slashing of fee, our children will subjected to harassment,” said a parent of a Class II student.
ACB helpline, a ‘gimmick’
Terming the launch of an Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) helpline for parents in June first week a “publicity gimmick”, Pooja Prajapati, president of Parents Ekta Manch, a parents’ body in Ahmedabad, said, “When parents are so scared to come out in open or even complain at the school level, how can the government expect them to register their complaint with the ACB.”
“I received a complaint from a mother who got her son admitted to Class XI at Swaminarayan School, Hathijan, after paying Rs 50,000 as admission fee for its English medium section. But on the first day, her son was asked to sit in Gujarati medium section. After a complaint, the school assured her that it will not happen again. One day, he was made to sit alone outside classroom and the teacher assured that he would be give separate tuition,” said Prajapati.
‘Fee Act will block school development’
In Rajkot, most schools are in wait and watch mode as the Gujarat HC is considering the petition, challenging the Gujarat Self-financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2017. Principals said provisions of the Act will block future development of their schools.
Saurashtra zonal FRC, which has jurisdiction over 1,676 schools across 10 districts, has received affidavits and fee proposals from 117 schools only. “All 1,676 schools, however, have moved the Gujarat HC. Out of these, 1,008 are from Rajkot alone,” Mukundray Sheth, chairman of Saurashtra FRC, said.
Some parents have also approached the government due to the confusion and delay in implementation of the Act.
On the other hand, Ajay Patel, president of self-financed schools association, Rajkot, said the schools have not approached the fee regulation committee as their petition is pending with the HC.
Jatin Bharad, managing trustee of Saraswati Scientific Education Trust, an organisation which runs many institutes, said day-to-day functioning of his institutes has not been affected so far. “We have been charging Rs 66,000 per annum for higher secondary for the last two years. We are planning to increase the amount to Rs70,000 this academic session as we need to pay well to teachers. Additionally, we also arrange tutorials for GUJCET and NEET. Private coaching institutes are charging Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. As compared to them, our fees is much reasonable,” says Bharad.
Bharad Schools charge Rs 40,000 for primary section, an amount the school will have to justify before the FRC as it is higher than the limit of Rs15,000 per annum.
Saint Mary’s School
Saint Mary’s School authorities said the regulations would put their future plans in jeopardy. “We had plans to extend our school building. But that remains uncertain now,” says Father Sijo Mathew, vice principal.
Parents claimed the school has already postponed a proposed hike in the fee. “Last year, I paid Rs 26,000 and we were told that the amount will go up to 28,000 this academic session. But we are now told that the fee will remain Rs 26,000,” said Vijay Patel (33), father of a kindergarten student.
Parents clueless on annual school fee
While many parents do not have a clear idea about the exact fees, a few schools have asked them to pay the first installment for this year. District Education Officer M L Ratnu said: “There are around 400 self-finance primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in the district, out of which Vadodara zone FRC has received around 176 applications.” The parents’ association of Vadodara on the other hand, have been representing before the DEO on the fee hikes
The Bright School
Darshna Jogalkar, whose son is in Class IX at The Bright School’s CBSE unit, said “Schools have started session, though I don’t have a clear idea about the fee structure this year. I have paid Rs 10,000 as the first installment at the time of admission in February. Last year, I paid around Rs 41,000.”
Jayendra Shah, chairman of Bright group of schools, Vadodara, said “For our Gujarat board schools, we have submitted our proposal to the FRC, while for the CBSE ones, where our fees for primary section is around Rs 40,000, we have appealed in the HC.”
Ambe Group of Schools
Ambe Group of Schools, which runs five institutes in Vadodara, has also asked the parents to pay the first installment of fees.
Surykant Shah, chairman of Ambe Group, said “We have submitted our details to the FRC for fee revision.We have asked parents to submit the first installment of fees as per last year’s structure. In case of changes in the fee structire, the final installment will be adjusted.” A parent, Satyam Sharma, said, “I have paid the first installment of Rs 7,000 of the total fees of Rs 21,000 for my son who is in Class II.”