July 23, 2010

School buses double up as marriage coaches

Some managements running maxi cabs and luxury tourist cabs for transporting students
Special camps being organised to ensure safe transportation of students, maintenance of buses

Hyderabad: Several school and college managements have now found a new way to make quick money by operating their buses to private functions on the sly.

Two buses of Ascentia Global School, Madhapur and Nizam Institute of Engineering, Gachibowli were seized by the Transport Department last week for operating their buses for marriage parties, according to Secunderabad Regional Transport Officer V. Sundar. The managements were levied a penalty of Rs. 2,000 each. Educational institution buses are given subsidies in terms of road tax and they are not supposed to operate buses for private functions even during holidays.

But it was found that many institutions were violating the Motor Vehicles Act and operating their buses as contract carriages, he said. This apart, many managements in violation of MV Act had purchased maxi cabs and luxury tourist cabs to operate them as school buses.

As per the Act, a school bus should have safety grills outside the windows, provision for first aid box, an attendant to help students board and alight buses, etc., but such provisions lack in maxi cabs.

The objective behind purchasing maxi cabs is to use them for their personal use during holidays and beyond school hours since using a school or college bus would not be feasible. Last week, a maxi cab belonging to St. Andrew's School was seized for operating it as a school bus, said Mr. Sundar. A special drive was launched last week and already 14 school buses belonging to Narayana School, Pallavi Model School, Delhi Public School, Grahambell School and others were seized for different violations, including employing drivers lacking valid driving licenses.

Over Rs. 3 lakh was recovered as penalties from the managements, he informed.
“Special camps are being conducted in schools on maintenance of school buses and safe transportation of students. Two such camps were conducted at Delhi Public School and Meridian School on Saturday,” said Joint Transport Commissioner B. Venkateswarlu.

July 20, 2010

School admission only through draw of lots

HYDERABAD: From the next academic year, it's luck and not merit that would get your child admission in reputed private schools in the state. The state government has decided that a draw of lots will replace screening tests in private schools as Right to Education Act (RTA) banishes these admission tests. According to officials from the department of secondary education, the schools which do not admit students on the basis of a draw of lots, will be fined Rs 25,000 in the first instance and Rs 50,000 in the second. "The draw of lots will have to be done before the district magistrate. No school will be allowed to conduct admissions without using the random sampling or lottery system," said Dr D Sambashiva Rao, principal secretary, secondary education, adding that the system is already in place in other states.

According to the new rules, admitting students without lottery system would be punishable under 13 (2b) of the RTE act. While the state government said that the system would give all students equal opportunity to take admission in schools, the management representatives of schools said that the decision infringes on the schools' authority to choose their students. They added that it would also deny seats to students who are genuinely interested in taking admission. "If admissions are done by a draw of lots, many conventions, like giving admission to siblings in the same school, would have to change. Parents will be more worried than ever during admission time if the rule is implemented," a management representative said. The management representatives are planning to ask the state government to devise some other method to conduct admissions in the coming academic year.

Meanwhile, parents from the city said that merit should be the criteria for admission into private schools. "There are parents who might want their children to study in specific schools. If admissions are done through a draw of lots they might be denied this opportunity. Besides parents are also worried that they will have to get their children admitted in neighbourhood schools as per the Act," a parent said.

Until recently, for admission into primary classes, students were being screened by oral examination and in upper primary and high school classes admissions were being done through written tests. Parents, however, said that admissions to the 25 per cent reserved seats under RTE Act should be done through the lottery method.

Meanwhile, trying to put the parents' doubts to rest, officials from secondary education department said the system is meant to put an end to donation and capitation fee in the state.

July 12, 2010

Parents association plans protest against school fee hike

ALLAHABAD: With schools reopened, parents and guardians under the banner of Abhiwawak Ekta Samiti are planning to re-start the agitation to protest against fee hike in schools of the city.

Covenor of the Samiti, Vijay Kumar Gupta said from July 24, the Samiti would organise boycott of classes in the city to make the people aware about their demands and elicit support for the movement. Besides, the samiti will put up posters and banners on the issue.

Gupta said the issue has remained unresolved owing to the fact that the state government has failed to introduce any regulations on fee hike. The samiti will also put up hoardings at prominent crossings in the city to highlight the failure of the state government in providing relief to parents and guardians, he added.

Besides, a delegation of the Abhiwawak Ekta Samiti will meet the district authorities and urge them to ask the schools to reduce the cost of admission forms and the fine charged for late fees.

Gupta expressed disappointment at the fact that the assurance given by the school authorities regarding permitting parents to buy books from outside has not been implemented.