Parents lock horns with Mumbai school over annual 15% fee hike

The hike is in violation of a resolution released by the state in March, saying that schools can increase fees only after the permission of the PTA, and not more than 15% once in 2 years

Of the host of things that parents of school-going kids have to think about, school fees are a constant source of worry and uncertainty. The absence of a Fee Regulation Act has added to parents’ woes, as there is not a single rule in place to regulate fee hikes in schools.

School authorities claim that the fee hike is necessary in order to introduce interventions like early childhood development,  and appointment of special educators and remedial teachers. Pic/Shadab Khan
School authorities claim that the fee hike is necessary in order to introduce interventions like early childhood development,  and appointment of special educators and remedial teachers. Pic/Shadab Khan

The most recent instance of animosity between parents and school management over school fees has been recorded in Diamond Jubilee High School in Mazgaon, where parents are angry about the school’s decision to impose a 15 per cent hike every year.

“For the past seven years, we have been going along with an annual fee hike of 15 per cent. While the school claims that added expenses and teachers’ incentives are the main reasons for the hike, we refuse to believe that the school needs to impose a fee hike every year to raise funds, especially since it has over 1,300 students,” said one of the parents.

He added that even the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has not been successful in changing the decision of the school management regarding the fee hike. “I’m sure some parents are happy to pay the hiked fees, but many of us are really unhappy, especially since we are seeing very little development in the school or the quality of education provided there,” he added.

While the much-awaited Fee Regulation Act is yet to be implemented in the state, the education department had released a government resolution (GR) dated March this year, clearly stating that schools can increase fees only with the permission of the PTA, and a 15 per cent hike can only be implemented once in two years.

Activists have pointed out that even with this GR in place, very little action has been taken against private schools, which have regularly increased their school fees, leaving parents in the lurch. “Since this is a private school, even the education department is not taking any action against the management. We have written to the deputy director of education as well as the state education department in Mantralaya, but nothing has changed,” said the parent.

“Many parents have not been paying the full fees as they are still opposed to the previous few fee hikes. The rest of us have no option but to pay the fees,” said another parent. Parents also alleged that the school PTA has been formed with the permission of the school management and is being manipulated by them.

The other side
When mid-day spoke to the school management, they stated that the school has implemented fee hikes within the range of 15 per cent band, not always 15 per cent. “Ours is a very new school with ICSE affiliation and we are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that we provide our students with an international standard of learning.

We will soon be introducing interventions like early childhood development, revamp of pre-primary infrastructure, and we already have many special educators, remedial teachers apart from the regular class teachers. The fees will be invested for the same,” said Trisha Sen, head of education, Aga Khan Education Services India, which runs the school.

She added that while a handful of parents have complained against the fee hike, most parents have supported the school in its ventures. “We are not in this business for making profits and hopefully our work will prove the parents wrong soon,” she added.

Problems in the past
Last year, the school got a lot of flak from parents, after they forced their Std X students to appear for the SSC board examination instead of ICSE, as the school had not got its affiliation from the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) on time. According to the CISCE rule, a school has to provide education under ICSE affiliation for two years before sending students for the Std X exams under the board.

“The school had some problems getting permissions on time, and so the Std X students had no option but to give the exam under the SSC board. This was very difficult, especially after studying the ICSE syllabus for some years,” said a parent.

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