The issue of regulating school fees was the topic of discussion at the function ‘Kural' had organised here on Saturday.
The organisation had brought in representatives of school managements and members of the parents community to air their views.
D. Balasundaram, head of Kural, told the gathering that the issue warranted a lasting solution. “No solution that is imposed or influenced by a third party will work. The stakeholders – school managements and parents – have to put their heads together to arrive at one.”
R. Mani Mohan, a member of the parents' community, said though parents were often being described as stakeholders in the education system, there was nothing much in action that justified such a tag. “For, school education was and is a sellers' market.”
Referring to the economics of educating a child in a private school, he said the burden on parents had been so heavy that spontaneous protests had broken out in Pune, New Delhi, Kolkotta and a few other cities.
The reason behind the protests in Coimbatore was that the parents felt that the fee hike was unreasonable and arbitrary. “If schools want to hike fee and consider parents to be stakeholders in the education system then there must be transparency in fee hike,” he said. “Let them [the schools] throw open the account books. Let parents know school's income and expenditure and then let the fee be decided.”
He asked the school managements not to fight against the fee regulation legislation per se but only against provisions therein that they disagreed with. R. Visalakshi of private schools' managements' association said the legislation regulating fee was passed without consulting the school managements. The fee recommended by the Justice K. Govindarajan Committee was far less than what the schools were collecting and in most cases did not make good economics.
She suggested that the Government calculate the amount it spent on students of each class in its schools and fix the same as fees for students of private schools. “A study suggests that the Government spends Rs. 21,000 a year on a Standard I student. Let the same or something similar be fixed for private schools, so that there is a standard or uniformity.”
She also went on to add that quality came at a price and nothing could be bought for a song. “Private schools offered more than what was available in Government schools and that ‘extra' comes at extra cost.” A few parents also voiced their opinions. N. Krishnakumar, Secretary, proposed a vote of thanks.