HYDERABAD: The suicide of Class X student from Karimnagar, due to his inability to pay the school fees is a poignant reminder of how notorious private schools are fleecing the parents.
Though it remains to be established whether or not it is due to exorbitant fees charged by the particular school that drove Santosh Reddy to resort to the extreme step, the gloomy incident also brings to the fore how hapless parents cough up huge amounts to educate their children.
Though there are enough laws to rein in on private schools from charging exorbitant fees, the apathy of authorities and ignorance of parents have left such schools raking in the moolah. Consequently, the relevant provisions are confined to papers without showing any tangible results on the ground.
GOs Galore, Enforcement Nil: Following the pressure exerted by the parents of private schools, the then united AP government in 2008 issued three government orders mandating a need for constitution of the District Fee Regulatory Committee (DFRC). The three GOs are namely - GO- 90, 91, 92.
The committee headed by district collector, and with district education officer (DEO), district audit officer and parents’ committee representatives as its members, decide the fee collected by each school. The DFRC committee should visit the school to assess the academic and infrastructure standards to fix the fees of each school.
However, the strong private schools lobby moved the High Court and ensured that these orders are put in abeyance in 2010. The things still remain at this point, till date, with government taking no initiative to see the provisions are implemented.
Similar is the case of Go-42, issued in July 2010, that caps the fee collected by private recognised schools. Accordingly, high schools in urban areas can charge a maximum of Rs 12,000 per annum, and Rs 10,800 in rural areas. In urban areas primary schools can collect a maximum fee of Rs 9,000 and Rs 7,800 in rural areas. It prohibits collection of all forms of fee, except approved by DFRC, like collection of capitation fee, donation and others.
S Govind Raju, convener of the Parents’ Association Co-ordination Committee in Hyderabad, alleges that the suicide of Santosh Reddy is a result of government collusion with private schools to commercialise education.
“One can say all GOs brought out to control private schools is just an eyewash. When a government is committed to go in for privatisation of education no GO would stop private schools in collecting exorbitant fees,” he adds.