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School fee: parents pour out woes

BURNING ISSUE: The participants at ‘Open House’ waiting for their turn in Hyderabad on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The ‘Open House’ organised here on Tuesday by the district administration to elicit public opinion on the fee hike in private schools turned into a stormy affair with both parents and school managements fiercely arguing their case.

Many parents expressed doubts about the outcome of the present exercise since the Fee Regulatory Committee comprised government officials and private school management representatives. They demanded the government to first issue an order stopping collection of the hiked fee this month till a final decision is taken.

The normally cool Hyderabad Collector, Navin Mittal, and Director, Board of Intermediate Education, Lav Agarwal, had to talk tough as tempers ran high. “We are willing to sit and listen. But if you speak out of turn then I will close the meeting,” Mr. Agarwal warned.

He said a special cell had been set up in the office of Director, School Education, and one could forward written suggestions there till Friday.

The government had an open mind on the issue. If necessary an amendment would be made to the existing education Acts. Irate parents wanted education to be rescued from the clutches of ‘profiteers and racketeers’. In the last three years, the Merdian School, Ameerpet had enhanced the fee by 133 per cent, Delhi Public School (94 p.c.), Chirec Public School (240 p.c.), HPS, Ramanthapur (61 p.c.) and Princess Esins High School (120 p.c.), said Subrahmanyam, president, Delhi Public School Parents Association.

Mazhar Hussain, Director, COVA, wanted only a flat monthly fee to be collected. He criticised the government for withdrawing from education and throwing it open to private sector. Many wanted schools with unique names like ‘Techno’ and ‘Concept’ banned since they collected huge fee running into lakhs. Children could do without comforts like air-conditioned class rooms.

Nageshwara Rao, MLC, said the only long term solution was strengthening of government schools. Muneeruddin Mujahid, a parent, pointed out how Princess Esins High School in the old city had threatened to remove students from school rolls if they did not pay fee by June-end. Representatives of school managements protested the heavy taxation. They had also to pay heavily for running school transport.

Sangeetha Varma, general secretary, Hyderabad District Recognised Schools’ Association, asked the government not to grant permission to private managements to open more than one branch.