Parents complain that they are asked to pay the school at regular intervals under different heads

Member of the Karnataka State Child Rights Commission, Father Edward Thomas has called for action against Block Education Officers and officials of the Education Department who do not attend to complaints against managements of schools.

Speaking at a conference that discussed the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, Fr. Edward Thomas said that parents and children were “victims” of various private unaided schools that were obligated to admit 25 per cent children belonging to “weaker sections of society and disadvantaged groups”.

During the conference that was organised by a group of non-governmental organisations, representatives of the School Development Monitoring Committees (SDMCs), parents and activists raised issues about the “grey areas” in the Act that needed to be addressed.

Suma S.R., whose child studies at VLS International School in Basaveswarnagar, pointed out that while the Act aims at providing free and compulsory education and make the government accountable, there is a need for the government to regulate the fees charged by private schools.

“Private schools make tall claims and state that they provide good quality education but there are discrepancies between the school managements’ justification for the fee that they charge and the quality of education imparted,” she added.

According to her the government should fix a ceiling and issue guidelines about what is the “permissible” level of fee hike per annum.

Yet another parent, who did not want to be identified, said that her child was admitted to a private school in Nayandahalli under the RTE quota. But the school in question was demanding “extra fees” under various heads including, hall ticket, books, bag and uniform. “Though we know that schools are not supposed to collect extra fees from us, we pay the fee that they demand as teachers warn us that our child will not be allowed to appear for the examination if we do not pay the fee demanded by them,” the parent added.

Kathyayini Chamaraj of Civic Bangalore, an intervener in the suo moto case regarding Out of School children (OOSC), said that there is a need for convergence of various departments to ensure that the number of dropouts was reduced to zero. “This is a unique case and there is a need to make use of the opportunity as the judiciary is involved in the cause. We can reduce the number of dropouts and set a model for the entire country.”

At the end of the conference, recommendations would be sent to the Education Department, CBSE Board, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.

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