Hyderabad, May 15: In the absence of any government regulation, private schools have hiked their fees by 50 per cent to 100 per cent ahead of the new academic year. Caught between the poor standards in government schools and the high fees in private schools, parents from the lower-income and middle-income groups are worried.
The Tamil Nadu government came out with a regulated fee structure for over 10,000 private schools last week. The Andhra Pradesh government, however, is still mired in “legal issues” and with the admission season in full swing ahead of the new academic year in June, parents are wondering just how to cope with the additional financial burden.
The tuition fee apart, schools demand “donations” in order to admit students. The amount ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 for nursery admission.
At first it was major cities such as Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Hyderabad and Tirupati that saw private schools increase their fees, but now schools in districts such as Nizamabad, Warangal and Prakasam too are collecting a donation of Rs 5,000 for nursery admission and a monthly tuition fee ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000. The transportation fee has also gone up. Schools in Hyderabad charge Rs 6,000 per annum for transport. Considering that schools work only for ten months in a year, parents will have to shell out Rs 600 per month for transport alone. Schools in Warangal, Nizamabad, Karimnagar and Krishna have decided to charge Rs 400 per annum.
After silently putting up with successive fee hikes, parents and students last year took to the streets and demanded a rollback in the fees. They formed parents' associations in schools and strongly resisted the fee hike.
The government was forced to constitute a committee under pressure from the parents. The five-member committee comprising then Hyderabad collector, Mr Navin Mittal, and commissioner of Intermediate education, Mr Lov Agarwal, submitted a report to the government making certain recommendations on fee regulation. But, the recommendations created a furore.
The committee had recommended a uniform upper cap of Rs 24,000 per annum for students of primary classes and Rs 30,000 for high school students across the state. Parents described these “mindless recommendations” as a majority of schools in the state were actually charging less than the amount prescribed by the committee. The recommendations were prompting schools to further hike the fee, they said. The government then decided not to fix a uniform fee structure for all schools and said that it will apply only to major schools which charge huge fees. But that too did not happen as the schools approached the High Court and secured a stay on the government order.
“There are about seven to eight petitions filed in the High Court against the government order. We have to examine all of them and submit the government’s argument urging the court to vacate the stay order. It will take some time. We have already asked the advocate-general to initiate the process to ensure that we will come out with a clear policy on fee regulation on the lines of the Tamil Nadu government,” said minister for secondary education, Mr D. Manikya Vara Prasada Rao.