Mumbai: Parents of school children gather to discuss steep fee hike

Did you know that even if just one PTA member objects to the proposed fee-hike, it cannot be approved in the name of majority? The term-fee in every school fee-chart covers 21 headings as per the regulation starting from library fee, laboratory fee and other such charges. Yet, several parents are paying excess fees. Most of the parents are unaware of their rights and laws available to help them in their fight against profiteering school managements.

Several parents from across the state gathered yesterday in Mumbai under the leadership of Forum for Fairness in Education to discuss issues faced by different schools, and strategies to strengthen the fight with the government that is not taking any action against errant schools.

While there are thousands of schools and crores of parents facing issues, in the gathering, one could only see a little over 50 participants. There is hence a very pressing demand from parents that there should be induction programmes for parents to understand what is the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), what are its rights and duties and other laws governing schools so that managements or government officials cannot fool them.

Tajender Singh, a parent from a Vashi school present for the gathering said, “When, in my daughters’ school they were going for fee-hike, it was approved by all PTA members without them checking the school’s audit report. I was the only one who objected it. All parents were first against me. They felt my fight will lead to my daughters’ harassment in school. All this, instead of standing with me in support. But, when the fee-hike was revoked, everybody thanked me. This shows how parents are ignorant and scared.”

Another parent, Talib Motiwala, giving a similar example, said, “Parents have to come together. Without that, change will not be possible. Government is anyway not doing anything about the issues and parents’ complaints. Because of such authorities, even as we have laws to avoid any kind of exploitation in schools, those are not implemented.”

Santosh Shinde, a parent of twins from a Dadar school, who had to pay donation in the name of school-development fee for both his children differently, said, “I was not aware that such fees can’t be collected. The school is also increasing the fee exorbitantly. Class I fee has been increased to beyond Rs 35,000, and we are already paying Rs 30,000 for Senior KG class. Parents had earlier started paying, thinking nothing can be done now. Also, there was no way of looking for other school as we had already invested so much in this school. Now, I am standing against the fee-hike and trying to generate more support form other parents,” informed Shinde.

Jayant Jain of President of Forum for Fairness in Education, which conducted the gathering, said, “The school or the government does not bother about educating parents about laws. But that does not mean that parents remain ignorant. All the regulations are available in public domain and parents should make use of it. It is important that parents start asking questions instead of giving in to management’s pressure. This is why we had conducted the gathering for more parents to know how issues are resolved.”

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