Parents on Twitter slam pvt schools over exorbitant fees for books, uniform

Members of a parent community from Karnataka stage a protest against harsh rules, fee system, online classes and various other issues faced by children of private schools at SBM circle, in Bengaluru on December 20, 2020. File photo

Members of a parent community from Karnataka stage a protest against harsh rules, fee system, online classes and various other issues faced by children of private schools at SBM circle, in Bengaluru on December 20, 2020. File photo | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

Parents of school-going children took to Twitter on Tuesday slamming city-based private schools for insisting that parents only purchase books, uniforms and other stationary supplies given by the school, which is in violation of government regulations.

Voice of Parents Association - Karnataka, an online forum, shared a parent’s message complaining of a prestigious Bengaluru-based school charging almost double the MRP for “long notebooks”. The parent also took objection to the exorbitant school transportation fees that remain “fixed” regardless of how long a child utilises the facility. VOPK has demanded that the government intervene and stop fleecing parents in the name of “convenience fees”.

Parents said on Twitter that while many send their wards to private schools hoping for a better quality of education compared to government schools, these institutions have now turned education into a business by charging not only charging ‘excess’ fees. They alleged that schools insist parents buy textbooks and notebooks, uniforms and other supplies from a particular vendor with whom the institution has a tie-up. The notebooks come with the name of the school printed and, to add to the expenses, can only be bought as an entire set and not selectively, parents said.

Some schools insist that shoes be bought from a particular brand only. Parents also complained about how they have been forced to pay for extra-curricular activities even when the child is not interested in it. With not many parents standing up to the school management, such dissenting voices are driven into a corner and forced to cough up exorbitant amounts, they said.

File photo | The Hindu

File photo | The Hindu | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

Shashi Kumar, President of Private School Association, said that it is not illegal for schools to bring third party services to sell books and uniforms as most parents need such a facility within the same premises. “However, if any school insists that parents buy the supplies only from them and indulges in monopoly, then we don’t appreciate it,” said Mr. Shashi. He also said that if schools are found selling books and uniforms at rates above the MRP, then parents are free to question it and can lodge a complaint regarding the same.

“Some schools lobby with third parties but you can’t label all schools wrong just because of a few black sheep. Those that indulge in charging excess fees are elite schools. If parents have an issue with that, they can come to state board schools,” he added.

Violation of rules

According to rules under Karnataka Education Institutions (Classification, Regulation and Prescription of Curricula) Amendment, 2018, while educational institutions can specify their own set of uniform or books, they cannot compel parents to purchase the clothing and text books from the school or from a shop suggested by them. The decision rests solely with the student or the parent.

Furthermore, all private unaided institution are required to display details of items and the amount of fees prescribed for each item on the notice board for the information of parents and students, as well as upload it on the website developed by Department of Public (https://sts.karnataka.gov.in/KMS/front/getKMSSchoolDetail.htm). The website, however, is inactive.

Legal recourse

Not content with simply raising these issues on social media, VOPK is also planning to pursue them legally. Sijo Sebastian, a parent and Joint Secretary of VOKP, said the association has been receiving complaints from parents of children studying in different schools across Bengaluru.

“Based on the many grievances received, VOPK is planning to file a contempt of court petition against the Karnataka High Court order dated 16 Sep, 2021 which had directed schools to collect only 85% fee for Covid-affected timeline based on the Karnataka Education Act,” Mr. Sijo said.

However, most private schools are not following this rule. Many parents are struggling to recover the extra fees paid and for those who haven’t paid, children’s TCs are being withheld. “The petition will include the complaints of various parents and the association will file the petition on their behalf,” Mr. Sijo added. VOPK hopes fighting this common case will bring relief to more parents.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 3:13:09 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/parents-on-twitter-slam-pvt-schools-over-exorbitant-fees-for-books-uniform/article65579076.ece