Expensive Education

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 Life

When education became purely bussiness

Education is becoming unaffordable for the middle and lower classes followed by a 200% increase in the school fees in the last decade. The status of a family was determined by a set of factors that changed from one era to another. From the dimensions of land they own to the house they live and then to the branded shirt they wear and then to the car they drive and now it has come to the school their children study. The parents want to enroll their children in a renowned school no matter the school is private or unaided. Only after they complete the divine process of admission would they know it is a nightmare for them due to the hike in fees and other school expenses. Parents stretch themselves at work for meeting the financial requirements of the school but all these efforts are not just enough to fulfill their dreams.

A survey showed that 65% of parents spend more than half their take-home pay on their children's education thereby breaking the spine of the monthly budget. According to the survey, the expense on a single child's education has gone up from Rs.35000 in 2005 to over Rs.94000 in 2011 and an average of Rs.18 Lakhs to complete one’s high school. Now, for a kid to get admission in the kindergarten, parents spend almost one-third of their annual personal income. There should be some logic behind this hike. Has the quality of education increased or is it just the increase in profit for these high-end schools??

There's little transparency on the fee structure. A parent who's paying Rs.1.2 lakh towards annual fee for a school doesn't know the break-up. A class 1 student has to pay the Laboratory fees. The old students are supposed to pay the admission fees every academic year. Annual charges are taken on per term basis. Though there is a strict ban on capitation fees and donations from the Supreme Court of India, these school managements feel free to issue a receipt for the same under the seal of the school. There is this special word ‘Miscellaneous’ that includes almost all other fees. Some schools have fees for ‘Excursion and Extracurricular activities’ and also ‘Physical trainings and Outings’. Aren’t these same??

The surprising fact is that the ‘Law’ doesn’t give the School Managements complete authority over the revision of fees. The Law says, “Private Schools shall decide the fees to be charged from the pupil. However such schools shall to get their fees approved from the Executive Committee of Parent Teacher Association before the end of every third month. The Parents Teacher Association shall have authority to object that portion of fee which amount to profiteering”. Why is the revision of fees approved by the parents? Why are they not shifting the child to another school? Some schools do not conduct a PTA meeting before taking a decision on increasing the fees whereas in some schools the parents are too busy to attend these meetings. Those parents who have opposition towards the hike in fees wouldn’t take the risk of raising the voice in order to keep up their polished image in the society. There are many laws, rules and acts imposed on private schools for the regulation of fees and other processes in the institution but no one bothers to have a look on it. Parents find it tough because it is a tiresome job to change the school and also the capitation fees and admission fees to be paid at the new school is comparatively higher than the expected rate of hike in fees in the current school. The parents are trapped and the School Managements make the most out of it.

The schools would also have justification for the yearly hike in fees. The major reason these schools point out along with increase in land rent, water, infrastructure and maintenance of security features is the lack of funds the State Governments are supposed to pass towards the 25% Quota students admitted in the Schools under Right to Education Act. The Government has a lot to do about this.

With this huge fees, are these schools educating the students up to the mark? I don’t think so. The children are fickle-minded, mentally weak unable to make critical decisions. They get depressed for simple things, lose the ability towards logical thinking and end up in disasters. I wish these schools could at least teach them something apart from their core subjects. Along with the assessment results, concentrate on a student’s critical thinking, communication, technology literacy, and collaboration.

Students are the backbone of our nation!

 


written by
Ajay Peter




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