Even as camera persons and reporters crowded around the Directorate of Government Examinations ahead of the class X results on Monday, a group of parents were waiting outside the Directorate of Matriculation Schools, shouting out slogans and looking angry.
Parents of students in nearly 20 schools mobilised themselves to voice their grievances together. “Since we insisted, the Director of Matriculation School met us, along with correspondents of seven schools,” according to S. Arumainathan, State president of the Tamil Nadu Students and Parents Association.
Asha Bakkiyam, mother of a student going to Grace Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Kodungaiyur, said the school charged over Rs. 10,000 for the first term, as against nearly Rs. 5,600 stipulated by the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee appointed by the government. “Seeing the fee circular, I thought the school mentioned the fee for the entire year. Later, I was shocked to find out it is for just the first term,” she said.
A group of parents of students going to Seventh-day Adventist Higher Secondary School, Vepery, had a similar grouse. The school they said was arbitrarily charging high fee, without explaining to parents the break up of the amount. “When we questioned them, they tried pacifying us saying they would reduce the amount by Rs. 2,000. The fact that they bargain this way shows that they charge far more than what the government permits them to,” said Sangeeta Bhandari, a parent.
Some of the parents also complained that schools insisted that students buy shoes and textbooks only from the school. “We find the rates quite high. We should be given an option,” Ms. Bakkiyam said. Senior officials of the Directorate said correspondents of about 12 schools would be given a chance to present their case between June 6 and 8. “They should refund the excess fee, or we will take stringent action,” an official said.
Soon after schools reopened a few days ago, parents of students in different matriculation schools staged protests outside the institutions, demanding that the Schools charge only what the government has stipulated and not in excess.
The Private Schools Fee Determination Committee, chaired by Justice S.R. Singaravelu, determined the fees for all private schools in Tamil Nadu. Some schools have sought revision.