The new academic year is yet to begin, but parents are already a worried lot, with the rising price of books. Book fees for 2012-13, at PSBB Millennium School for pre-KG to class IX, range from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 11,000, going by the rates published on an Indian parenting website. Posted by a parent, the message reads, “This is looting parents. Rs. 7,850 for second standard books. Do all schools charge the same?”

In several private schools, the average price of textbooks and notebooks is above Rs. 2,000. At Sacred Heart Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Church Park, the fee is between Rs. 2,505 and Rs. 3,200, which is inclusive of textbooks, notebooks and stationery for classes VI to IX.

Printers and publishers blame this on the rising cost of paper and logistics that add to their costs.Besides textbooks, increasingly, private schools are asking for learning resources to enhance students' understanding of a subject. For instance, a class I student going to Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Anna Nagar, has been prescribed 11 textbooks and 26 notebooks. In English, a student has a course book, a work book, a literature textbook and value education. “When compared to LKG where we spent over Rs.3,000, this time it is a little less. I think it is still justified in UKG as most of them are activity books – my son had three in English alone,” says V. Priya, a parent. She adds that as it is, the note books go waste, even if they are only 60 pages each, as only half the pages are used by the end of the year. While the price of textbooks is still justified with the colourful images, elements, graphics, a vibrant layout design and the printing cost involved, a few parents wonder why notebooks are so expensive.

With schools generally revamping textbooks or trying new publishers, chances of handing over textbooks to a junior in school are also ruled out. According to publishers, there is an increase in the price of books every year. “The average cost of a book ranges between Rs. 100 and Rs. 120. In most cases, the publisher supplies directly to the school or through a distributor, where margins are charged,” says K.A. Roymon, regional manager, Orient Blackswan.

Schools agree that there is some profit for then but argue this is necessary especially after they were asked to abide by the fee structure prescribed by the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee. “Between the price we pay the publisher and the amount we charge parents, we make a margin of 30 per cent on textbooks,” says B. Purushothaman, Principal, Everwin Matriculation Higher Secondary School.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012