A huge burden

The proposed legislation to regulate the functioning of ICSE and CBSE schools in the State will come as a relief to many parents. Among the issues that the legislation will address is the exorbitant fees charged by these schools. Successive governments have not tackled the issue so far, often pleading that these schools come under Central boards and are therefore beyond the State’s purview. With several ICSE and CBSE schools doubling their fees this academic year and public outrage over this touching a new high, the government has finally decided to act. Besides regulating the fees charged, it is also considering reforming the admission procedure. It is considering making it mandatory for schools to give weightage to proximity of homes to the schools and socio-economic factors in admitting children. But it is not just the tuition fee that imposes a burden on parents. Parents are routinely forced to fork out huge amounts for various building projects in the school. Students are expected to purchase books, uniforms and shoes from the school at heavily marked up prices. It does seem that schools are not being run anymore to impart learning to children but to make huge profits. And it is parents and students who are bearing a heavy burden.

It is not ICSE and CBSE schools alone that are charging high fees. Many privately-run SSLC schools are doing much the same, imposing a heavy and unnecessary burden on parents as well. The government must therefore examine the fee structure and other charges levied by all schools in the state. ICSE and CBSE school authorities argue that their fees are high because of the superior quality of education and the array of extra-curricular activities they provide students. This might be so. Still it does not justify fleecing of parents.

School authorities feel encouraged to charge high fees because of the large number of parents who flock to their doors in search of admission for their children. They know parents will pay whatever price to give children a good education. Parents don’t have an option. And this is because of the abysmal condition of government-run schools. If the government is keen to reform the system it must improve the education being provided in its own schools.

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