The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has recently given an ultimatum of November 30, 2016 to schools to disclose their financial details as well as fee structure on their websites. The order comes after the Board received recommendations from various parent groups urging the government to look into exorbitant fee hikes in the name of school fee.
LocalCircles, a social networking site, had conducted a survey recently among parents asking them about their views on the fee structures in CBSE schools. The survey received over 10,000 responses.
The survey revealed that 64 per cent guardians felt their ward’s school was charging a significant amount of fee (with an increase of over 10 per cent) under heads other than tuition. About 81 per cent respondents felt that there should be a regulatory body for private school fee in the country.
Seventy three per cent felt that private schools with a profit objective should be required to label themselves as private companies instead of trusts or societies while 89 per cent voted in favour of recognised private schools disclosing their financial reports in addition to the school fee structure.
Yatish Rajawat, Chief Strategy Officer, LocalCircles, said initially, the site had asked just one question – what kind of fee hike had the parents witnessed? But the findings then ended up going viral on social media as parents from various sectors across the country said that they had noticed a fee hike of 10-30 per cent in the past one year. These were shared with the chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as well as the Union Human Resource Development Ministry, after which the Board issued a circular regarding the same to affiliated schools.
“This is a gray area as they (CBSE) can only ask schools to explain the school fee structure but cannot regulate the fee. The district education officer can issue notices to schools but even he or she cannot regulate school fee,” he said, adding that parents had asked for a regulatory body in this regard to be set up.
N P Singh, District Magistrate, Noida, had written to the CBSE Chairman in May, 2016 recommending certain measures through which the charges can be regulated, such as fee resonating with facilities available in the school, hiking said payments only a year and consultation of parents regarding the hike, among others.
“There should be a regulatory body looking into fee hike. Schools have found to be billing parents under plantation, women empowerment fee, etc. There should be a range for the fee hike regulated by the CBSE,” he said, adding that details of the visit of the audit team to schools, which happens once a year should be made known to parents beforehand so that they can interact with the team and voice their grievances.
Fee hike should be linked with inflation, price index or the rise in prices or taxes of goods and services related to education, said Singh. Echoing his statement, Rajawat said, “The average salary hike is about 12 per cent, inflation about six to eight per cent while the most schools hike fees by about 15 per cent on an average. What most parents said in the survey is that hike should be linked to either pay commission (15 per cent votes) or inflation (41 per cent), among other factors. About 20 per cent felt that it should be capped at annual hike of 10 per cent.”
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