BENGALURU:With hundreds of schools to choose from in the city, it may seem like parents seeking school admissions for their children are spoilt for choice. However, not every school within their vicinity may cater to their needs and demands. Some may be lacking in infrastructure while others may just be too costly. So, what do parents do?
Quite a few move to be near a school of their choice. For Shoaib Kaleem (name changed), an IT professional who was looking to get his daughter into a primary school a few months back, the decision was simple and straight forward.
“I stayed in Kasturi Nagar for five years. My daughter completed her LKG and UKG from a school there. For class 1, we searched for schools around the area but most of the decent ones are too costly. The cost per year is around `1 lakh to `1.5 lakh, which was too steep,” says Shoaib. During this time, he used to spend many hours hunting for the right school. “I think I visited around 10 schools in around 10 weeks in various areas. Most of my Saturdays would be spent doing this,” he adds.
Finally, he found a school in Kaggadasapura which he thought suited his budget and the location. “This is a very new school where the cost came up to around `70,000 per year. We were happy with the infrastructure and the staff as well.”
No sooner did they zero in on their school, the family moved too. “We moved to a house that was just half a kilometre from the school,” says Arfa Saleem (name changed), Shoaib’s wife. An Ayurveda doctor, Arfa works out of Manyata Tech Park in Nagarbhavi. “Transport has become an issue for me since there are no direct buses from where I stay. It’s, however, okay since we got a good school,” says Arfa adding that while the family was looking to move for a while, their daughter’s school was the foremost requirement they had to fulfill before they even decided on relocating.
M Srinivasan, principal of Gear Innovative International School in Sarjapura and president of the CBSE Schools Association, says he knows of a number of cases where parents zero in on a school first and arrange for the accommodation later. “Good schooling matters all over the world. I think you will find good flats and accommodation anywhere in Bengaluru, however, good schools are hard to find,” says Srinivasan.
For safer environment
While cost is a major factor for some, others like Priyanka, are more concerned about all-round education and safety. A working professional, Priyanka stays in Marathahalli and has two children – a 13-year-old son and a daughter of five years. Her son has been studying in DPS East in Dommasandra, while her daughter recently joined the school as well.
She was studying in a school near the house but Priyanka decided the present school was a good choice even for her daughter. “I had researched on a lot of schools before zeroing in on DPS East. For a while I personally monitored how they operate beyond academics,” she says.Now the entire family is about to move near the school to reduce the commute time. The distance between Priyanka’s residence and DPS East is around 12 km. “We are scouting for houses near the school as of now,” she says.
She adds, “Being a working mother, one of the most important things for me is that the children are dropped back home safely. Many school vans come and drop children on the main road or without security. I am not saying that any school is foolproof. One can’t say when they might fail in following due processes.” She adds, “The past few years we have seen schools here encounter so many molestation incidents. I recently saw a student of one prestigious school getting off a school bus, buying some fruits and then getting into the bus.” As parents, Priyanka says, they try to do their best.
D Shashi Kumar, secretary, general secretary of the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, is of the opinion that parents usually are more bothered about the infrastructure when choosing a school. He says parents from areas such as Whitefield and the IT corridor are the ones who mostly shift to the inner city which have more options of cheaper schools.
G Nagasimha Rao, Executive Director, Child Right’s Trust, an NGO, says how during the beginning of the implementation of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, there were a number of cases of parents shifting to be nearby good schools in the city.
This is just so that they had a chance to be allotted seats in those schools under the 25 per cent reserved quote clause of the act. Under the Act, children staying within one km radius of a school are eligible for seats there. “I knew of one person who relocated all the way from Tumakuru to be near a good school in Bengaluru. There were many such cases,” he adds.
Ready to pay
A study in the UK last year showed that one in four parents with school-going children move to a particular catchment area (a geographical area within which students have to live, to be eligible to get into a school) and were willing to spend more on rents or ownership of houses on top of the present value of a home for the location.