Mumbai: Malad school asks parents to pay for whitewash, water coolers
With many parents in the city already fighting schools over fee hikes and second admission fee, a school in Malad just went overboard with their demand. The Carmel of St Joseph High School sent parents a letter last month asking them to deposit money under Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fund with the school for infrastructural repair and more facilities for the students.
Carmel of St. Joseph High School in Malad
While the state education department has ordered the school to stop, the school administration said it took this step just to provide better facilities to the students. These facilities include repair of the school building and washrooms, whitewash and installation of water coolers and CCTVs. “The school has to provide basic facilities, irrespective of whether it is a public school or a private one. A good building structure, drinking water, toilets etc are basic services,” said a parent.
The school sent this circular to parents demanding money
Parents have been asked to give Rs 1,000 for each primary student and Rs 2,000 for secondary and those with more than one child in the school were asked to pay for all.
These parents then approached an NGO, which registered a complaint with education department on March 21. Another parent said, “I have two children in this school one in primary and another in secondary section. So I was asked to pay Rs 3,000. If it is voluntary why do I have to pay twice?”
A parent was appalled when his child was humiliated in the class for the money. “My daughter was made to stand in the class and asked when was I going to pay the money. She was so embarrassed that she asked me what problem did I have in paying Rs 1,000. It took me a while to explain it to her that it is not about the money but about what is right.”
Sharad Gaikwad, secretary of Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha, an NGO that the parents approached with their complaint, said, “It was shocking to know that such funds are being collected. Following parents’ complaints, we tried to find out if the school has permission from the authorities to collect such a fund that does not adhere to existing regulations. A formal complaint was then submitted to the education department for inquiry.”
Shubha Wadiyar, local education inspector, said, “It is inappropriate to charge any money for PTA fund. We received a complaint and the school was subsequently asked to stop collecting the amount.”
Sr Dorette, principal of the school, said, “We are not collecting any fee. We had just asked parents to help if they wish to. While many paid, many didn’t because they could not afford it. We have all the records. This money is just for the school’s development and will not go to anybody’s pocket.” She added, “If it would have been mandatory, we wouldn’t have let students appear for examination for non-payment. But nothing like that happened. There are so many parents who have paid just Rs 100 or Rs 200 while few have generously given Rs 10,000 as well.”
Paul D’souza, school’s PTA treasurer, said, “The decision to ask parents for this amount was taken in a PTA meeting. If parents had any objections they could have raised it then. Anyway it was an appeal to give if they wished to.”
When asked that if it is so, then why have children been embarrassed in class for non-payment, he said, “I will have to verify if that happened. But the collection has anyway stopped after the education officer’s instructions.”