September 09, 2013

Curbs on franchisee schools welcomed

HYDERABAD: The Central Board of School Education (CBSE) has restricted schools from entering into monetary transactions with their franchisees, a move welcomed by parents across the city.
Several schools including various branches of Delhi Public Schools, DRS and Edify are parent institutions of many franchisee schools. The franchisee school pays a certain sum to the parent institution for using its name, logo and motto and the money is collected as part of the students' fees. The parent institution in turn, helps in setting up of the franchisee school but usually has no say in its internal management.
Following the CBSE's decision last week, parent institutions will now need to have an official record stating that they are not in any sort of transactional agreement with a franchisee school.
"We have been trying to protest against this monetary transaction between schools for a long time now as the burden of such an arrangement is borne by the parents, which is unacceptable. The move by the central board will help in making the education system more transparent," said Dr Shanth Kumar Goel, president of AP Parents' Association.
Many franchisee schools under the same parent institution have different fee structure."A school under the same brand name charges differently depending on its location. This sort of education is elitist and discriminatory," said Prasanth Kumar, parent of a four-year-old.
Despite an exorbitant fee structure, franchisee schools have a huge demand amongst parents who expect that these schools will provide the best education to their children. However, course curriculum between franchisee schools and parent institutions differs in most cases. "One look at the course curriculum at many of these schools will show the poor quality of education that is being imparted," Goel said.

February 14, 2013

Karnataka HC: All children in private school must get free education

In an order having far-reaching consequences, the Karnataka High Court has held that all students aged between six and 14 in private schools are eligible for free education and not just those from poor families gaining admission under a 25 per cent quota fixed by the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act.

In an interim order on a batch of petitions on Tuesday, Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh said Article 21A of the Constitution guaranteed free and compulsory education to all children in that age group.

The State government should reimburse the fees charged by private schools, he ruled. To arrive at a reasonable fee for reimbursement, , the Education Department should organise a seminar with the stakeholders on March 10.

“It is for the State and Central governments to work out the fee that has to be paid by children in the age group 6-14 and to see that proper arrangements are made to indemnify the institutions concerned on behalf of the children,” the judge said.

While some petitions claimed free education under Article 21A, others complained about the demand made by private schools for a fee in excess of the amount prescribed under the Karnataka Education Act. Private institutions had filed petitions questioning certain provisions in the Right to Education Act and the rules.

As for admissions made in 2012-13, the court directed the private institutions not to prevent students who are agitating over the fee structure from attending classes or tests. They should approach the State government seeking reimbursement of the fee to be paid by these students.

The court asked the Education Department to discuss at the seminar what would be the reasonable fees with representatives of private institutions, associations of teachers and parents, the Indian Council of Secondary Education and the Central Board of Secondary Education. The authorities should discuss the complaints of teachers that unaided and minority institutions were not paying pay scales fixed.

Based on the outcome of the deliberations, Justice Ramesh said, the Union and the State governments can take policy decisions on reimbursement of fee and earmark funds. The Court adjourned the hearing till April 16 and directed the two governments to submit a report based on the outcome of the seminar.