mid-day editorial: Schools must stop bullying parents

Parents in the city are already in battle mode with various schools over fee hike and second admission fee. Now, a school in Malad has gone several steps further. The Carmel of St Joseph High School asked parents last month to deposit money under Parent Teacher Association fund for infrastructural repair and more facilities for the students.

A report in this paper yesterday stated that the facilities include repair of school building and washrooms, whitewash and installation of water coolers and CCTVs.

Complaints followed, but the larger picture is surely about the bullying and coercion by schools, which sheath demands as “voluntary” or “for the welfare of the students”. If parents do not accede, their children are often targeted in class, asking why their parents have refused to pay. This is a huge embarrassment at a young age. Sometimes, parents are against certain demands of the school on principle, but relent because they are afraid their children might be victimised. Some time ago, a SoBo school had forced parents to buy overpriced stationery from them and yet another school wanted to charge parents an additional admission fee for Std I.

There needs to be a system of strong checks and balances when it comes to schools’ demands. They cannot hold parents to ransom as they sometimes do and make demands that put a monetary strain on parents, who are already stretched with high fees.

Parents need to have access to NGOs and even government bodies that will intervene quickly when they are forced to toe the line of certain schools.

All this is because demand far outstrips supply, and getting admission to a school of one’s choice is an absolute nightmare, as parents know. This high-handedness must stop and there has to be a much more equitable relationship between parents and school authorities. Being at loggerheads with those responsible for teaching your children or feeling forced by them is certainly not a healthy atmosphere for parents, school or the children.

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