Parents from all over the State to participate in protest meeting on October 9

A group of parents protested outside two city schools on Wednesday. Parents of students going to SBOA Matriculation School in Anna Nagar and Gill Adarsh Matriculation School, Royapettah, insisted that the managements reduce the second term fee and the State government intervene in the matter.

This has become a rather common scene in the last few weeks, outside several city schools, with protests intensifying especially after the interim order of the Madras High Court staying the decision of the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee, headed by former judge of the Madras High Court Justice K. Govindarajan. The final hearing of the case has been scheduled on November 29.

E. Krishnakumar, president of the Parent Association of SBOA Matriculation Higher Secondary School, said: “School managements are not only increasing the second term fee, but are also silent on whether they would return the excess fee collected.”

Several parents associations have come together to form the Federation of Parent and Student Welfare Associations in Tamil Nadu.

Addressing a press conference in this connection on Wednesday, S. Arumainathan, president of the Federation said: “The government has been silent all through. The implementation of the Govindarajan Committee's recommendations has been very poor right from the beginning,” he said. General Secretary of the Federation L. Shanmugasundaram said parents from all over the State would gather in Chennai on October 9 for a protest meeting in this connection.

P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu of the State Platform for Common School System, also a member of newly-formed Federation, said that right from the beginning, there was no clarity on the issue.

“First the Govindarajan Committee prescribed the fees. Some schools sought revision. The committee implied that while the revision might need time till next year, schools would have to collect only the prescribed fee until then. It was all very ambiguous,” he said.

“Now, the government may cite the recent interim order of the Madras High Court as reason for its inaction, but it was not active even before that,” according to N. Karthikeyan, member of the Federation.

The School Education Department had earlier said that it would put up the fee structures prescribed by the Committee on its website. “Schools were also expected to put up the fee prescribed for them on the notice board. Neither of these happened,” he added.

P. Solomon, vice-president of the newly-formed Parents' Association of C.S.I. Jessie Moses Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Anna Nagar, says that last year too the management had increased the fee in the second term of the academic year.

“They have done the same thing this year too, but it was the Committee's revised fee structure for the school that made us parents feel that we had a right to raise our voice on what we thought was unjustified hike by the school,” he says.

CBSE schools

Amid all this noise, CBSE schools do not seem to figure anywhere. According to the head of a CBSE school in Kilpauk, though a questionnaire was sent and the school filled it, the institution did not hear from the Govindarajan Committee after that. The entire exercise by the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee has brought in utter confusion among schools and parents, according to Sheela Rajendra, correspondent, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Group of Schools.

Schools also feel that the Committee could not possibly have done justice to the fee determination exercise in such a short period. “There were lots of areas where schools wanted to give more details, but there was little scope in the questionnaire. This exercise cannot be completed in two-three months and was not carried out in a detailed fashion,” she adds.

Meanwhile, members of the Students' Federation of India protested on the DPI campus on Wednesday, demanding that the State government go for an appeal in the case.

All India Joint Secretary of SFI G. Selva said: “Parents and students are being fleeced and the government is simply remaining silent, despite protests by parents every day.” The SFI also said that if the School Education Department does not take steps to speed up things, the organisation would protest outside offices of all the Chief Educational Officers soon.