Keep calm, it's admission time

No child's play

Keep calm, it's admission time

With school admissions open, many Bengalureans with children between the ages of three and five are under stress. They have to face stringent filtering processes from schools and take tough decisions about raising huge amounts of money for the admissions.

These young parents share their dilemma when it comes to selecting the best school for their children and the difficulties they face in the process.

Nisha K (name changed), a young professional, says that most parents feel the pressure to “do the best” for their children and thus, give in despite the cumbersome fee structure demanded from schools.

She explains, “I wanted my daughter to attend a school in Indiranagar as it is one of the best and also has schooling from nursery till the 12th standard. But their fee structure was appalling; they asked for Rs 1,25,000 in cash, which was called ‘development fees’ and this had to be paid within 48 hours of the admission. We  will not be given a receipt for this. After this, a payment of Rs 1,20,000 had to be made as tuition fees within the next four days. The irony is that this amount doesn’t include the books, uniforms or transport fees.”

She adds that there is also a year-end fee of Rs 90,000. “We’re hoping to get her admitted in an air force school through the civilian quota now. Since the fee demanded elsewhere is not something we are willing to pay, I am even ready to wait for a year. This will hopefully help us figure out better schooling options if nothing works out.”

Parents like Sharmista, a homemaker and mother of four-year-old Arushi, say that it is baffling to see how difficult it is to get admission in to a good school. She mentions that she was warned about schools being stringent in admitting wards on the basis of the area they came from, how they performed during the interaction with school authorities and also on the annual income of the family.

“In one particular school, Arushi was taken to a room filled with toys and was asked a few questions. She didn’t immediately answer. How does one expect a child to answer quickly when a room is filled with colourful distractions?” she wonders aloud.

After doing a lot of research, Sharmista wanted to get Arushi admitted in to one of the top schools in the City but was shocked by the fee structure. She says, “A representative from the school approached me and asked if I was willing to pay Rs 5,00,000 as donation, apart from the fee structure which is close to Rs 50,000!”

She further narrates, “Apart from the filtering process at schools, parents also face the pressure of taking the right decision as this affects the making of a child’s future. I was lucky to find a good school which was worthy of the amount we paid.

I spent a total of Rs 64,000, which includes a one-time-payment of Rs 40,000, annual payment of Rs 11,500, book fees of Rs 3,500, school fees for the first two months of Rs 8,450 and other stationery fees. The fees also includes fees for sports and cultural activities. This felt like nothing, compared to the lakhs that friends and family have paid with and without receipt, along with the monthly fees.”

Among other issues faced by parents is that the application forms for schools are handed out at different times of the year. Kavitha Vadiraj, a homemaker from JP Nagar and mother to three-year-old Vismay, says that each school has application forms at different rates.

“They vary from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000, which is another way for the institutions to make chunks of money. And I was late to learn about the deadlines for submitting the forms, which vary from school to school, making it more confusing. In the end, we were not able to zero in on a particular school.”

She adds that the school they were looking forward to admitting Vismay into had closed admissions by the time they realised what was happening. “We have decided to retain Vismay in pre-school this year. I’m not sure about the details of the fee structures for schools at the moment as these are given only after forms are handed out. It will be the same battle in a few months.”

In most schools, the necessary information is available only online. Anjali Kiran Sowdi, an Ayurveda doctor and mother to three-year-old Jaitra, questions the educational authorities, “I’ve walked into many schools asking for information and people at the reception would curtly reply ‘all information is available on the website’. How many parents go online all the time to be able to access all information?” She adds that hidden ‘development charges’ are shocking as parents are informed of it only once they come in for admissions.

“The fee is as high as Rs 1,50,000. I can’t understand what they teach such young children, with this kind of fees.”

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