It’s that time of the year again. Admission season has set in and parents are a distraught lot.
And why wouldn’t they be? Several private and corporate schools in the city have increased fees from anywhere between 30 per cent and 50 per cent for the academic year 2014-15.
Parents lament official apathy and the lack of an official framework to regulate fee hikes in private schools. Many have also demanded legislation to check the continuous and “irrational” hike in fees.
“There are no guidelines for finalising school fees. That’s why, every year, it has become a ritual for most private schools to hike fees arbitrarily. Managements do not involve parents in decision-making and the latter are saddled with huge school fees to pay,” says N. Ravi Kumar, secretary of the Hyderabad Schools Parents Association (HSPA).
There are close to 6,000 schools in Hyderabad, which are roughly divided into three categories based on their fee structure. The first category comprises corporate institutions that charge annual fees of over Rs. 1 lakh. The second category consists of schools that charge between Rs. 45,000 and Rs. 50,000 and third of schools that charge anywhere between Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 35,000.
“We have never opposed an annual increase of fee by 10 per cent due to inflationary reasons. But, all major private and corporate schools have hiked fees by 20 to 50 per cent. Parents find it tough because they can’t change schools frequently. There are no parameters, but to be fair on authorities, it is very difficult to keep a tab on 6,000 schools,” says S. Sreenivas Reddy, president of the A.P. Recognised Private Schools Management Association.
In the past, authorities had come up with Government Orders to regulate fee structure. The GO Ms No 1 makes it mandatory for school managements to decide on fee hike through a committee consisting of parents and teachers. Another government order (GO Ms No-91) of 2008 had set a maximum fee of Rs. 12,000 and schools wanting to charge more had to submit their proposals to a school regulatory board.
“All these official orders are only on paper and no attempt is being made to implement them. Instead of such piecemeal offerings, why can’t the government come up with a comprehensive legislation to regulate school fee? There should be some logic behind fee hikes,” feels S. Govindrajulu, convenor of the A.P. Parents Association Co-ordination Committee.