November 22, 2012

Choosing a school for your child

Parents are busy drawing up a list of the perfect school for their children.After all,a school moulds a childs overall development.Vidyalaxmi writes


It is that time of the year when parents are busy deciding on the school they would like to have their child studying in.The next academic year is still 6-7 months away,but parents have started drawing up their choice of schools.

Just like a college admission or admission to an MBA course,the little ones and their parents go through the process of filling up application forms,attending interviews and waiting for the final admission list.This is seen by many parents as the important first step for a good education for their child.

I have been studying the curriculum and the teaching methods of various schools in my suburb for eight months now, says Sandeep Bachhe,a technical analyst.

I identified 7-8 schools based on proximity,feedback and the curriculum.Then I ensured I met parents whose children were already studying in these schools,to get a first-hand feedback.Based on the parents'feedback and our expectations,I shortened the list to three schools and picked one from them, says Sandeep.

The fact is,parents want their kids to get the best education possible.Unfortunately,in their eagerness to provide the best education often they consider only the affordability factor before deciding on the school or curriculum.

Sure,it is an important parameter,but there are certain other factors one should look at to make the right choice.

Choice of Curriculum
Gone are the days when a parent had just schools of state board or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to choose from.Today,there is a wide range of options,including schools following the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and The International Baccalaureate (IB)/ International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curricula.

You may be already clear about your choice of curriculum,but there are a few points you should consider before making your choice.If the parent /parents have a transferable job and the child has to change schools frequently,they should ideally opt for an ICSE or CBSE school.

Parents in a government job that involves transfer to tier-II towns should ideally opt for a CBSE school.If the transfer is restricted to metros or urban areas,parents can opt for ICSE or a CBSE School."The logic is that ICSE schools are still a rare concept in smaller towns of the country,"says KSR Iyer,a counsellor.

"I have a job with prospects of overseas postings.For some reason,if I migrate to some other country,I don't want my child's education to suffer.Hence I have opted for IGSCE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) board,"says Sandeep.

Schools Credentials
There are a number of international schools mushrooming in every corner of cities.If the school or the management of the school has a pedigree and expertise in the field of education,it definitely adds to the school's credentials.But that alone is not enough.

"I was keen on sending my child to a school following the IGSCE curriculum.But,after doing some homework,I realised only a few IGSCE/IB schools in India have the right global recognition,"says Meenakshi Rajan,a citybased software engineer."I learnt that the recognised international schools in every country are listed on the IB website (formerly known as International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO))."

Student-Centric Approach
Today,many schools have recognised that all children are not equally prepared for schooling,especially in the initial years of education.Students may show some learning disorders such as dyslexia,or have stronger visual memory,etc.

Hence,many schools have learning resource centres to give extra coaching to such children to bring them at a par with other students in the class.

"As parents,we think our child will be the best student of the school.But,we may be in for a surprise when our child may actually struggle with the curriculum.Hence,it is better to opt for schools having such resource centres that can mould students,"says a teacher with a popular school in the city.

It is also important for a school to have a healthy teacher-to-child ratio,especially in the lower classes.

"Thanks to the school,I learnt that my daughter is interested in reading and music.We have frequent teacher-parent meetings,which help us understand our child's evolving interests.Now,I can think of formal training in music for my child or,at least,I have an idea what would be her choice of activity in the spare time,"says Abhilasha Joshi,a mother who also runs a beauty salon business.

Times of India | 22nd November 2012 | Education Times

November 06, 2012

Madhya Pradesh government working on school fee regulation Act

INDORE: Parents' woes concerning arbitrary hike in school fee may soon see a respite.

Taking cue from states including Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh government is working on enacting an Act that would regulate fees in private schools in the state. The school education department is working on it and is in consultation with all concerned departments and people so as to give a final shape to it and later passing the bill in the state assembly. If the act comes into action it would restrict private schools from increasing fees every academic year in an uneven manner.

Speaking to ToI, principal secretary, school education department, Sanjay Kumar Singh said, "Indeed we are working on introducing a fee regulation act to restrict arbitrary fee hike in all private schools. We are in consultation with those concerned to come to a consensus." When asked about the possible dates of introducing the bill in state assembly, he said, "Legislative process takes its time. However, we are working to introduce it as soon as possible."

Recently, Rajasthan state assembly has given approval to Rajasthan schools' regulation of collection of fee bill, which lays out punishment of three years imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine for not following the rules and hiking fees in arbitrary manner. Tamil Nadu too has constituted a committee which will decide particular amount of fees to be charged by any private school.

Meanwhile, parents have welcomed the government's proposal to check fee hike. "If the government is planning to come out with new regulations before the commencement of the next academic year, many parents will be relieved," said Nilesh Churchill, a parent. According to parents, several city schools have already hiked their fee structure by 10 per cent to 50 per cent in the academic year. "If a new legislation is put in place, there will be some amount of fear among private schools and unjustified fee-hike might stop," said Churchill.

Meanwhile, private school managements said that implementing fee regulation is a difficult task. "We have been called for a meeting related to the act but there are several points in the documents that will make it difficult to implement the Act in all schools. If government comes with concrete parameters only then can it come into effect. Moreover, the union ministry has proposed to bring schools under 15% income tax slab. Once, schools come under the slab, then it will be recognized as a company and regulating fees cannot be forced," said a school principal wishing anonymity.

September 05, 2012

Panel wants 64 schools to refund excess fee

New Delhi, Sep 1 (IANS) Sixty-four private city schools have illegally collected higher fee from students since September 2008, a committee has informed the Delhi High Court while recommending a refund of the money with 9 percent per annum interest.


The 600-page interim report of Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee, which randomly examined the accounts of 200 schools, was opened by a special bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Siddharth Mridul Friday.

The committee was constituted about a year ago to submit a report on the determination of fees in the unaided schools in Delhi.

Its first interim report was based on an examination of 200 unaided private schools out of a total 1,172 institutions.

In the case of 13 schools, the committee found that either no records were maintained or the accounts were fudged. It recommended strict action against these schools.

"The committee recommends that the schools be directed to refund the increased monthly fee from September 2008 till the date of actual refund along with the interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum," the report said.

It also raised questions on the working of the department of education as it did not act in accordance with the law in inspecting the schools.

"The regulatory mechanism envisaged by the law has been thrown to the winds by the directorate of education. Schools are enjoying total and unbridled freedom in acting in the manner they like," the report said.

"Right from the stage of granting recognition, the lack of supervisory control of the directorate is writ large. Hardly any inspections are done and even if they are, they are conducted in a most perfunctory manner," the report said.

The bench July 20 directed the committee to submit a report on the fee hike in unaided private schools in Delhi. After the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, the schools increased the fees citing additional financial burden due to increased salaries of teachers.

The court gave directions for setting up a committee to audit the accounts of each of the schools to ascertain if the fee hike by them was required.

The committee also said that there were 143 schools which increased the fee without implementing the Sixth Pay Commission. Many of the schools in the city were operating without even a bank account and years after years they were granted recognition, it said.

Several of the schools have not been maintaining proper accounts and were not getting their accounts audited as required by the law, and were also not filing annual returns, the report said. "Some of the schools have been fabricating their accounts and getting various types of certificates from chartered accountants which do not qualify as audit reports," said the report.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, appearing for a group of parents, earlier said that if the report was submitted "it would be a great relief to the exploited parents, as they would be entitled to refund of the excess fee recovered from them by schools".

The court would next hear the matter Sep 14.

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/09/01/287--Panel-wants-64-schools-to-refund-excess-fee-.html

September 04, 2012

Government has no control over schools

A Delhi high court-appointed committee has said that the extent of irregularities indulged in by private schools in the capital to bolster their case for a fee hike in 2009, indicated that the government had no control over their functioning. The panel, which inspected accounts of 200 schools to verify the validity of up to 25 per cent fee hike imposed by them, submitted before the Delhi high court that it was high time the government took action against errant schools.

"Regulatory mechanism envisaged by the law has been thrown to the winds by the directorate of education. Schools are enjoying total and unbridled freedom and are acting in the manner they like," said the three-member committee headed by former Rajasthan high court chief justice Anil Dev Singh.

"Right from the stage of granting recognition, the lack of supervisory control of the directorate of education is writ large. Hardly any inspection is done," it said. Apart from the 64 schools indicted by the panel for unjustifiably hiking fees, the panel also found that at least 50 other schools had fudged account statements and concealed receipt books and made it difficult to ascertain the extent by which they hiked the fee.

"In case violators are not dealt with adequately by the education department, their disdain for the rules would keep on pinching the pockets of the parents," said the panel, recommending punitive action against many such schools.

"The panel's conclusions are sensational. It is a warning bell. Hope it brings a change in the way schools function," said Ashok Agarwal, lawyer for parents in the PIL which triggered formation of a panel to verify the validity of fee hike.

August 17, 2012

Nursery rush begins again

NEW DELHI: Over a dozen schools in NCR have started registration - some even admissions - for the nursery class of 2013-14. Some others will initiate the process by August-end or early September.

Gurgaon-based Vijaylakshmi has been calling schools everyday. "I've also been coaching my son," she says. She is interested in having her son admitted into one of three schools and is referring to admissionsnursery.com - started by another beleaguered parent - for help.

She is interested in DPS Sushant Lok, which had sold forms at an admissions fair but isn't anymore. "They say they'll start selling after August 21." Parents who collected DPS Sushant Lok forms were told that appointment details for their round of interactions will be intimated in the first week of September. Registration is open at other schools, too, including Lotus Valley International School (Gurgaon), Shiv Nadar Schools (Gurgaon, Noida) and GD Goenka Public School (Indirapuram).

Ardee School started selling forms on August 16 and the last date for submission is September 15. "DPS Vasundhara opened last week and admissions there will remain open for another two weeks. We are not covered by the Directorate of Education guidelines. We're lucky that way," says Rita Kapur, executive director, DPS Ghaziabad Society.

Another Gurgaon parents have already managed to get her son placed in Ryan International. "I bought the form at the fair and they gave me a date and time for the interaction there itself. My child got selected," she says sounding relieved.

Most of Sarbani Ojha's "target schools" - Scottish High School, Heritage and Sun City School - will open only next week. "I also want Shri Ram School but for that I'll have to wait till January. I feel uneasy about waiting," she says.

"In Delhi, the bigger, better established schools will wait till the guidelines from the Directorate of Education are declared. Most open after November," says Sumit Vohra who has started admissionsnursery.com.

July 31, 2012


DEO raids Private schools in Vijayawada for higher fee's

July 30, 2012

When do we see AP government acting against greedy school managements ?

While the issue of "year on year" fee hikes is on, there has been a good response from governments in TN, Maharastra & few other states. Unfortunately & inspite of HC order in favour of parents, AP Government is sitting still on the request of lakhs of parents in the state.

For your information, please click below link for details in  TN

http://www.tn.gov.in/departments/sedu/feedetermination_SRS/default.html

July 09, 2012

July 05, 2012

Private schools to hold protest rally on July 7

HYDERABAD: Demanding that educational institutions be brought under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), hundreds of schools have decided to hold a rally in the city on July 7.

The protest is being organised by Andhra Pradesh Recognised Schools Managements Association which has about 17,000 schools across the state under its wing. Protesting school managements said as many as 40 working days were lost due to bandh calls in the last academic year of 2011-12.

Even as the schools reopened on June 12 this year, two holidays were announced owing to bandh calls given by various student unions. School managements said they were forced to work even on Sundays to make up for the lost working days in the last academic year to complete the portions.

"Class X students who appear for the board examinations are put to test during the bandh days. They come under a lot of pressure," said S Sreenivas Reddy, president of the association. Only students belonging to class VIII and IX will participate in the rally, officials of the organization said.

The rally, which will start at 10am on July 7, will conclude at Indira Park.

"Political parties and student unions should exempt schools from bandhs as children at that age can hardly understand politics. They only stand to lose in the long run," said Reddy.
 

July 02, 2012

Let school panels ensure bus safety

Despite recent measures, school bus safety is still a matter of grave concern for parents. With the start of the new academic year, they admit that they still do not feel secure letting their children commute by these buses.

Meanwhile, experts say the responsibility for school bus safety should be given to the school bus committees appointed within the schools.

Shatabdi Bannerjee from Mira Road, whose daughter takes the bus to school every day, said, “Every time I put my child in the school bus, my heart skips a beat thinking about whether she will return safe and sound at the end of the day. But there is no other choice as my husband and I are working professionals who take trains to work.”

Parents who decided to start carpooling their children to school after several school bus mishaps, are now at their wits’ end. Santa Cruz resident and parent Asmita Mogre said, “Worried about school bus safety, four parents in our locality began a carpool. But that has stopped after the petrol price hike. Our children are back to taking the school bus.”

The latest government resolution has stated that schools that do not own their buses but hire buses on contract will no longer be held responsible in case of a mishap. With nearly 80% of schools employing contract buses, this GR has invoked the wrath of parents as they feel that school authorities will wash their hands of their children’s safety and not ensure that mandated norms are in place in the buses.

Experts have recommended that school bus committees formed by schools should be given responsibility to ensure school bus safety. Jayant Jain, president of Forum For Fairness In Education, said, “School bus contractors are appointed by school authorities.

Then why can’t they be held responsible? If schools are not held accountable, they will not look into the appointment of the contractor seriously.

“School bus committees have to be appointed as per government norms and should include all stakeholders like the principal, RTO officer, a parent and the bus operator as well. This committee should be given joint responsibility for child safety,’’ he said.

June 28, 2012

State can't violate Supreme Court directive on RTE

HYDERABAD: Protecting private schools from implementing the Right to Education act is a state government order, according to which seats in neighbourhood government and aided schools should be filled before private schools are approached for admission under RTE. The order has been a key reason for private schools to steer clear of earmarking 25 per cent seats under the RTE Act. But Supreme Court advocate Ashok Agarwal, who has been spearheading the RTE implementation, says that the GO is in violation of the Act.

In the city on Wednesday, Ashok Agarwal told TOI that he had been travelling to various districts across Andhra Pradesh to meet lawyers and create awareness about the act so that they can take up cases of violation. "Section 12 of the RTE Act makes it very clear that it is a child's right to get admission in a private school and such a government order (issued by the state government) is in contradiction of this provision. The state while framing the rules cannot violate the act, they don't have power. This amounts to repealing section 12," Agarwal said.

He said another problem in AP is in the rules framed by the government on RTE's implementation. "They have applied reservations in this 25 %. This is reservation within reservation which is not permissible," he said.

Agarwal, who has been actively involved with MV Foundation, has toured districts including Kurnool, Khammam and Nalgonda over the last few days speaking to lawyers. "We are telling our lawyer friends about RTE provisions and asking them to adopt one school and then find out violation of the act. People can go to taluka and even district court... they needn't move the high court. We are getting a good response," he said.
 

June 01, 2012

Rising cost of education stifles parents

Many private schools stipulate that students buy textbooks, stationery from them

Even while struggling to survive the petrol price hike, parents across the city are now faced with the prospect of shelling out more money as the educational institutions are about to open.

With many private school managements stipulating that the students must buy the textbooks and stationery from them only, there is additional financial burden on the parents, as school managements are charging more than the open market prices.

“A full books and stationery set, put out as a package for each student by the school management, costs no less that Rs.3,000 a year even for primary school students. And that for high school students goes up to Rs.5,000,” says Lavanya, whose daughter studies at the Delhi Public School.

Expensive stuff
Even as some schools have made it optional for parents to buy books from the school or from outside, several parents said that schools take advantage of those parents who buy it from the school to save on their time.

“While uniforms too need to be purchased only from the school, each pair costs nearly Rs.1,000. A pair of socks, if purchased from the school, is priced at an unreasonable Rs. 150. Come June and almost an entire month's pay cheque goes on expenses to be borne for a new academic year,” rued another parent.

That apart, several corporate schools are now forcing parents of high school children to even purchase customised tablet devices like the ‘edutor' which costs Rs. 750.

No choice
The device enables electronic storage of lessons to be taught in an academic year. Many parents, however, said that they find no merit in introducing such technology among students when they have to buy and carry books to school, nonetheless.

“Also, this year we were asked to pay an additional Rs.1,000 towards ‘extra curricular activities' so that children are allowed to play indoor games like carom, chess, etc.

Managements are openly looting parents who do not have another choice but to abide,” said a parent.

Parents in dark
Another major concern of parents pertains to the ‘parent committees' which ought to be set up in all schools, as per the AP Education Act. “While many schools have not even constituted the committee, those who have do not ever consult parents before taking any major decisions, including fee hikes, as mandated,” said AP Parents Associations Coordination Committee convenor S. Govindarajulu.

April 19, 2012

Tab trend fuels fee hike fears in city


HYDERABAD: High-end city schools have it all. Air-conditioned smart classrooms with touch screen blackboards, ergonomic furniture and pasta for lunch. And they just can't stop adding to the list of classroom must-haves - the latest step makes it mandatory for students between class VIII to X to become Tab-friendly.

Well, if the Akash Tablet can be introduced in government schools, why not private schools embrace the same novelty, it is asked. But with a price tag of Rs 8,000, parents aren't looking forward to slipping the gadget into their child's bag just yet. School managements maintain that the gadget will prove to be an effective learning tool that digitizes homework and classroom lessons. Some schools have even asked their students to get tabs even before the start of this summer vacation. As for the rest, they say that tablets will be introduced at the beginning of the coming academic year in June.

Schools such as Meridian in Banjara Hills and Silver Oaks in Bachupally have already announced the move to take on tabs as classroom aids. Even Oakridge International School (Bachupally), Jubilee Hills Public School and Delhi Public School (Diamond Point) too are seriously considering introducing the gadget in their classrooms. While at Meridian, students from classes VIII to X will be using the device, Silver Oaks has introduced it in class IX.

While tablets manufactured by a city-based technological solutions company are priced at Rs 8,000, much lower than that of the Ipad, whose induction in a Mumbai school recently kicked up a storm, parents feel that this gadget is an extra expenditure which will not serve any purpose.

For one, they say that the introduction of tabs will not reduce the weight of the schoolbag as children will have to carry their notebooks and textbooks to school anyway. Most publishers are yet to come out with e-book versions of their textbooks so the tabs will carry only related learning materials like concept maps, animated diagrams and homework applications. Applications which might divert the attention of children, like games and other entertainment tools, will not be available in these tablets.

Parents are predictably worried about the expenditure. "Schools hiked fees by 25% a couple of years back to put together smart classrooms providing the best teaching and learning solutions. Now, they are forcing us to buy tabs all in the name of providing quality education. They seem to have a myopic vision of what education is," said Ramnik Kaur, a parent.

However, Hyderabad Schools' Parents' Association (HSPA) has condemned the move. "Tabs and other gadgets are not good for children as constant use can affect their neck and spine," said HSPA's Kamal Malliramani.

Parents pointed out that there was no replacement clause in the agreements signed with the schools and, hence, any damage to tablet would have to be repaired at their own expense. "The tab could very well get damaged or malfunction but it is not clear whether it will be replaced," a parent said, fearing the extra expenditure that would entail. Schools, however, said that advances in the digital field would have to sooner or later be adopted in classrooms. "The government is thinking of introducing Akash Tablets in government schools to facilitate learning. The device will help students learn even while they are on the move.

"Moreover, in the years to come, more and more publishers are expected to embrace the e-book format so, eventually, the weight of schoolbags will also lessen," said Usha Reddy, principal, Meridian School. She added that about three-fourths of the students in question had already purchased the tab with parents finding the initiative interesting enough to back it.

Seetha Murty, principal, Silver Oaks, said: "Parents have not complained about the move (to introduce tabs) as they think that it is a good educational tool." The management of Oakridge International School revealed that they have already organised a demonstration of the tab and on April 28 would take a call on whether to introduce the device or not.

Jubilee Hills Public School has got its academic committee to do a feasibility study and intends to introduce the gadget once the cost-factor is negotiated. "The tabs will change everything right from the weight of the schoolbag to the method of learning. We will introduce it somewhere down the line," said Shailaja Gopinath, principal, DPS, Diamond Point.

Some schools, like Geetanjali School, Glendale Academy and Pallavi Model School, though have decided to reject such a proposal. "Two years back we had introduced the tab but it was not made compulsory. Just 10% of the students had opted for it and the move did not excite too many parents," said an official from Pallavi Model School.
 
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Tab-trend-fuels-fee-hike-fears-in-city/articleshow/12723407.cms

March 07, 2012

A for admission fee

The spectre of donation is haunting parents once again. It is that time of the year when parents run around in search of a school that can provide quality education without charging an astronomical sum as ‘admission’ fee. The fleecing is there in almost all schools, only the amount varies in proportion to their individual clout.

Pelli chesi choodu, illu katti choodu is a Telugu saying (meaning, perform a marriage or build a house to know onerous responsibility) that every parent must have heard at least once in their lifetime. If we go by the present situation in regard to school admissions, one may well add - kotha admission chesi choodu to the saying.

Getting admission in a good school that has an affordable fee structure is like chasing a mirage. Try as much as you want, still you cannot escape shelling out huge sums as admission fee. This amount is non-refundable and it urrently ranges from `15,000 – `1,00,000.

The whole process takes at least a couple of months. Parents need to get the prospectus from at least five or six schools and what makes it even more difficult is that there are no standard regulations.

The admission procedure, rules, entrance exams, interviews and the type of questions differ from one school to another. Finally, the interactive session with the managements of schools is something that can be a harrowing experience.

Alok, a parent, asks, “Why should I answer questions? I know my responsibilities. Questions on family background are something I detest. I had to attend interviews and take my kid to different schools on different dates. I lost 10 working days.”

Apart from spending a huge sum at the time of new admission, the annual school fee, transport and others can cost between `25,000-60,000 annually in most schools. When it comes to international schools that offer International Baccalaureate (IB) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) syllabus, then the annual fee can range anywhere between Rs 2,00,000 and Rs 4,00,000, depending on the school and its reputation.

Ramesh Patnaik, organising secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Save Education Committee (APSEC), says, “According to the 1/1994 AP Government Act, 50 percent of the fee collected has to be used for teachers’ emoluments, 15 per cent for teachers’ retirement benefits, another 15 per cent for day-to-day expenditure, 15 per cent for school’s development and five per cent is at the discretion of the management.

“This year, schools have increased their fee from 18 to 100 per cent. Last year an international school, located at Kondapur, was charging `74,000. This year it has increased the amount to Rs 1,32,000. Some school managements went to the Andhra Pradesh High Court and obtained a stay on the GO 91.

As the government cannot intervene at the present juncture, the school managements are doing as they wish,” says Ravi Kumar, general secretary of the Hyderabad Schools Parents Association (HSPA).

B Parvesh, president of the Hyderabad Public School Ramanthapur Parents Association, says, “As per the 96-2006 GO-MS – school managements are allowed to collect Rs 1,500 as admission fee. HPS Ramanthapur and HPS Begumpet collect Rs 25,000 as admission fee and another Rs 5,000 as caution deposit.

The society is diverting the money to its corpus and the accrued yearly interest amounts to Rs 80 lakh per year.” He adds, “There is no explanation as to how the money is used. The society is sitting on Rs 12 crore.”

The money collected from admission fee is not shown as revenue. As per the Government Act 1994/1, 65 per cent of the fund is to be used for teachers’ salaries and welfare. The parents association has been fighting for transparency in the society’s work.

M Somi Reddy, DEO of Hyderabad, says, “As the GO has been challenged, school managements are going about their work without any thought. The department is keeping an eye on school managements.”
 

February 20, 2012

Open Debate On Sarkari Schools

City schools ignore ban to screen kids for admission

HYDERABAD: Flouting all rules, including a 2001 Supreme Court directive, a 2008 Union HRD ministry order and the Right to Education Act, all of which have proscribed entrance tests for children, city schools are still conducting screening tests for tiny tots during admissions.

And cashing in on these tests are coaching centres that have 'tailor-made preparatory material' designed to help toddlers 'crack' these entrance tests for a fee ranging between Rs 500 to Rs 6,000.

Admissions at most city schools opened in December and shall go on till the end of February. The state education department has already sent a memo to city schools asking them to follow the 'lottery' system for admissions, as stipulated by the RTE Act but only a handful of them have taken heed. However, the education department's intervention, it seems, has ended with the memo.

While parents believe that it is their financial status which is the deal clincher when it comes to kindergarten admissions, school authorities say they take these tests to ensure that the student can cope with their system of teaching.

At most schools, children in the age group three-to-five years are made to take written and oral tests which asses their understanding of alphabets and familiarity with nursery rhymes. Some institutions will also use the test to screen out children with learning disabilities, parents said.

The test, principals said, is compulsory for children in the six-to-14 age group. The coaching centres entered the scene around three years ago with an increase in the numbers of those wanting to put their children in 'high end' schools.

The proprietor of a coaching institute at Ameerpet, said: "We conduct preparatory courses for students appearing for admission tests for class 1, LKG and UKG". These coaching centres come up with tailor-made courses based on the syllabus for the entrance test. K Rama Devi, owner of Sri Sai Ram Tuitions in Musheerabad, revealed that around 50 to 60 children had so far enrolled for these coaching classes.

The lottery system does not look like being implemented any time soon at these schools. "We are not trying to asses the merit of the children through a screening test. We just check their basic knowledge and how they respond to questions. And, for higher classes, we do not have that many admissions and so we do not have to go for the lottery system," said Usha Reddy, principal, Meridian.

January 20, 2012

Schools need parents’ nod to increase fees

HYDERABAD: The district education department (DEO) has made it mandatory for school managements in the city to take permission from parents before any hike in fees.

School officials will now have to discuss the reasons for increasing their fees with parent-teacher associations before announcing any hike. Were the revision in fee structure to be rejected by these associations, then the hike move may not be implemented, DEO said in a news release.

Schools are to display their fee structures on their notice boards and it should be accessible to parents and guardians. Also, details of the fee structure should be sent to the district education officer, the release said.

The DEO has warned school managements against taking donations.

The DEO's orders are applicable to all schools in the city including those with CBSE and ICSE certification, officials said.

The order comes at a time when parents' bodies have been crying foul over unjustified hikes in school fees.

Most schools in the city have increased their fees by 10% to 50% for the academic year 2011- '12.

January 17, 2012

PARENTS TO PAY FOR AVOIDABLE ADS OF UNAIDED SCHOOLS-AIPA WRITES TO DELHI CHIEF MINISTER TO REGULATE ADS

ALL INDIA PARENTS ASSOCIATION (AIPA)
AGARWAL BHAWAN G T ROAD TIS HAZARI
DELHI-110054 PHONE 011-23910014

To
Hon’ble Smt. Sheila Dikshit,
Chief Minister of Delhi,
Secretariat, I.P.Estate,
New Delhi-110001
15.01.2012

Sub: Regulate publicity advertisements by unaided private schools to curb commercialization of education

My Dear Chief Minister,

In law, commercialization of education is prohibited but in practice such commercialization is rampant and the government has utterly failed to check the same. In the backdrop of human, fundamental and birth right of free school education of every child as guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21, 21-A and 38 of the Constitution of India, the unaided private schools are literally bent upon looting the hapless parents.

These days, one can see large numbers of big size advertisements on road sides of several unaided private schools (for instance, G.D.Goenka School and VSPK School in Model Town area). Not only this, one can also see such advertisements in both electronic and print media. It is quite apparent that the burden of huge amounts being spent by the private schools on these avoidable advertisements would simply be shifted upon the hapless parents who are already subjected to exorbitant, arbitrary and unjust fee hike by the unaided private schools every year and crying for justice.

Needless to say that the government’s deliberate failure to provide good quality education to the children in State-run schools is forcing hapless parents to send their children to unaided private schools and to spend nearly 40% of their hard earned income on the same. The inaction on the part of the government to regulate publicity advertisements by the unaided private schools involving huge expenditures would further jeopardize the interests of the parents. It is submitted that such avoidable advertisements are against public interest and opposed to the public policy.

It is, therefore, requested that the government should forthwith frame regulations regulating the publicity advertisements by the unaided private schools. We, however, make it clear that we are not against necessary and unavoidable advertisements by the unaided private schools but we are strongly against those which are given with a view to commercialize education.

With regards,

Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
National President, AIPA

January 06, 2012

Many of India’s Poor Turn to Private Schools

By VIKAS BAJAJ and JIM YARDLEY
Published: December 30, 2011

HYDERABAD, India — For more than two decades, M. A. Hakeem has arguably done the job of the Indian government. His private Holy Town High School has educated thousands of poor students, squeezing them into cramped classrooms where, when the electricity goes out, the children simply learn in the dark.

Parents in Holy Town’s low-income, predominantly Muslim neighborhood do not mind the bare-bones conditions. They like the modest tuition (as low as $2 per month), the English-language curriculum and the success rate on standardized tests. Indeed, low-cost schools like Holy Town are part of an ad hoc network that now dominates education in this south Indian city, where an estimated two-thirds of all students attend private institutions.

“The responsibility that the government should shoulder,” Mr. Hakeem said with both pride and contempt, “we are shouldering it.”

In India, the choice to live outside the faltering grid of government services is usually reserved for the rich or middle class, who can afford private housing compounds, private hospitals and private schools. But as India’s economy has expanded during the past two decades, an increasing number of India’s poor parents are now scraping together money to send their children to low-cost private schools in hopes of helping them escape poverty.

Nationally, a large majority of students still attend government schools, but the expansion of private institutions has created parallel educational systems — systems that are now colliding. Faced with sharp criticism of the woeful state of government schools, Indian policy makers have enacted a sweeping law intended to reverse their decline. But skeptics say the litany of new requirements could also wipe out many of the private schools now educating millions of students.

“It’s impossible to fulfill all these things,” said Mohammed Anwar, who runs a chain of private schools in Hyderabad and is trying to organize a nationwide lobbying campaign to alter the requirements. Referring to the law, he said, “If you follow the Right to Education, nobody can run a school.”

Education is one of India’s most pressing challenges. Half of India’s 1.2 billion people are 25 or younger, and literacy levels, while improving, could cripple the country’s long-term prospects. In many states, government education is in severe disarray, with teachers often failing to show up. Rote drilling still predominates. English, considered a prerequisite for most white-collar employment in India, is usually not the medium of instruction.

When it took effect in April 2010, the Right to Education Act enshrined, for the first time, a constitutional right to schooling, promising that every child from 6 to 14 would be provided with it. For a nation that had never properly financed education for the masses, the law was a major milestone.

“If we nurture our children and young people with the right education,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, commemorating the act with a televised address, “India’s future as a strong and prosperous country is secure.”

Few disagree with the law’s broad, egalitarian goals or that government schools need a fundamental overhaul. But the law also enacted new regulations on teacher-student ratios, classroom size and parental involvement in school administration that are being applied to government and private schools. The result is a clash between an ideal and the reality on the ground, with a deadline: Any school that fails to comply by 2013 could be closed.

Kapil Sibal, the government minister overseeing Indian education, has scoffed at claims that the law will cause mass closings of private schools. Yet in Hyderabad, education officials are preparing for exactly that outcome. They are constructing new buildings and expanding old ones, partly to comply with the new regulations, partly anticipating that students will be forced to return from closing private institutions.

“Fifty percent will be closed down as per the Right to Education Act,” predicted E. Bala Kasaiah, a top education official in Hyderabad.

As a boy, M. A. Hakeem listened as his father bemoaned the slow progress of his fellow Muslims in India. “Son,” he recalls his father’s saying, “when you grow up, you should provide education to our community.”

A few months after Mr. Hakeem completed the 10th grade, his father died. A year later, in 1986, Mr. Hakeem opened a small preparatory school with nursery classes. He was 15 years old.

Not yet old enough to vote, Mr. Hakeem held classes in his family’s home and enlisted his two sisters to handle administrative tasks. By the mid-1990s, Mr. Hakeem had opened Holy Town. The school has since produced students who have gone into engineering, commerce and other fields.

“I’m fulfilling my father’s dream,” Mr. Hakeem said.

When Holy Town opened, Mr. Hakeem’s neighborhood at the edge of the old quarter of Hyderabad had one private school, a Catholic one. Today, there are seven private schools within a half-mile of Holy Town, each charging a few dollars a month and catering to Muslim students with a largely secular education in English.

Their emergence roughly coincided with the economic liberalization that began in 1991. For decades, government officials had blamed rural apathy for India’s high illiteracy rates, saying that families preferred sending their children into the fields, not the classroom. But as the economy started taking off, public aspirations changed, especially among low-income families.

“In India today, demand is not really a constraint for education — it’s the supply,” said Karthik Muralidharan, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied Indian education. “Parents are seeing education as the passport out of poverty.”

The rising demand created a new market for private schools, and entrepreneurs big and small have jumped at the chance to profit from it. Corporate educational chains opened schools tailored to higher-income families, especially in the expanding cities. Low-cost schools like Holy Town proliferated in poorer neighborhoods, a trend evident in most major cities and spreading into rural India.

Estimating the precise enrollment of private schools is tricky. Government officials say more than 90 percent of all primary schools are run by or financed by the government. Yet one government survey found that 30 percent of the 187 million students in grades 1 through 8 now attend private schools. Some academic studies have suggested that more than half of all urban students now attend private academies.

In Mumbai, so many parents have pulled their children out of government schools that officials have started renting empty classrooms to charities and labor unions — and even to private schools. In recent years, Indian officials have increased spending on government education, dedicating far more money for new schools, hiring teachers and providing free lunches to students. Still, more and more parents are choosing to go private.

“What does it say about the quality of your product that you can’t even give it away for free?” Mr. Muralidharan said.

Most low-cost private schools also follow rote-teaching methods because their students have to take standardized tests approved by the government. But some studies suggest that teachers in government schools are absent up to 25 percent of the time. Poor children who attended private schools scored higher on reading and math tests, according to a study by Sonalde Desai, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, and other scholars.

“There is not much teaching that happens in the government schools,” said Raju Bhosla, 32, whose children attend one of Hyderabad’s low-cost private schools. “I never even thought about putting my kids in government schools.”

Across Hyderabad, work crews in 58 locations are expanding government schools or constructing new ones. To education officials, the building spree signals a rebirth of the government system, part of an $800 million statewide program to bring government schools into compliance with the new law.

For Mr. Sibal, the national education minister, government schools had atrophied because of a lack of money. Under Right to Education, states can qualify for more than $2 billion to improve facilities, hire new teachers and improve curriculums, he said.

“All these changes are going to transform the schools system in the next five years,” Mr. Sibal predicted. As for the tens of thousands of private schools opened during the past 15 years to satisfy the public’s growing hunger for education, Mr. Sibal said, “We’ve given them three years time,” referring to the 2013 compliance deadline. “We hope that is enough.”

Skepticism abounds. Elite private schools, already struggling with requirements that they reserve slots for poor and minority students, have filed lawsuits. But the bigger question is what will happen to the tens of thousands of low-cost private schools already serving the poor.

James Tooley, a British scholar who has studied private education in India, said government statistics grossly underestimate private schooling — partly because so many private institutions are not formally registered. In a recent survey of the eastern city of Patna, Mr. Tooley found 1,224 private schools, even though government records listed only about 40.

In Hyderabad, principals at several private schools said inspectors regularly threatened them with closings unless they paid bribes. Now, the principals say, the inspectors are wielding the threat of the Right to Education requirements and seeking even bigger bribes.

Mr. Anwar, the private school entrepreneur trying to organize a lobbying campaign, estimated that roughly 5,000 private schools operated in Hyderabad.

“Can the government close 5,000 schools?” he asked. “If they close, how can the government accommodate all these students?”

State will curb fee hike in pvt schools

The state government has warned private schools against increasing tuition fees by citing excuses such as increase in the property tax and other charges. It categorically stated that school managements must obtain mandatory approval for any fee hike from their Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and the school education department. The managements of private schools have announced their plans to increase fees by 40 per cent from the academic year 2012-13, citing increase in property tax, electricity, water charges etc.

“The government will not sit quiet if private schools resort to arbitrary hikes. Increasing the fee up to 40 per cent on the grounds that the government has raised taxes is totally ridiculous. Property tax is paid once a year. That too, most schools pay less than Rs 2 lakh property tax, even after revised rates. Schools that have enrolment of hundreds and thousands, can recover more than this amount even if the fee is raised by Rs 10 a month. This is totally unacceptable. We will take severe action against such schools that resort to indiscriminate fee hikes,” declared Mr Partha-sarathi, minister for secondary education. The minister has decided to convene a high-level meeting with officials of the school education department to discuss the fee issue. The government has already issued certain GOs to regulate fee structure in private schools.

January 02, 2012

Parents get New Year shock as schools announce fee hike

Hyderabad: The New Year started on a bitter note for parents in the city with as many as 5,000 private schools on Sunday announcing a 10 to 40% hike in their fee structures effective from June 2012. School managements said that the steep hike in property tax was the reason for the fee hike.

The government had announced a revised property tax structure for schools last month based on their locality, built-up area and space usage. It also mandated schools to follow certain fire-safety mechanisms. So, for instance, a school paying Rs 7,800, is now poised to pay as much as Rs 2.36 lakh in property tax. The amount would vary from one school to another but the percentage hike almost remains the same.

Schools have also cited the impending hike in electricity and water tariff in 2012 as the reason behind the hike. Schools are expected to submit in writing to the state secondary education department their desire to have fees hiked.

Managements of recognised schools that are known for their affordable fee structure have said that they will not be able to offer any fee subsidies this year. “The financial burden on schools has increased manifold. If the government wants us to keep the fee structures low they have to charge a low property tax,” said Srinivas Reddy, state president of the AP Private Managements’ Recognised Association.

Recognised schools likely to go up by 25% from next year
The fee hike announcement comes at a time when the state government is planning to increase the number of recognised schools in the city so that the proper rearing of children cuts across socio-economic sectors. The number of such schools is expected to increase by 25% in the new academic year as per an assessment done by the school education department.

Parents were predictably shocked with the sudden development. “Most schools which have decided to increase their fees this year are those that charge less than Rs 30,000 per annum right now. Parents will be hard hit even if the fees are hikes by 1%,” said a parent.

Parents further said that despite the growth in the number of corporate/international schools, many old schools run by the state government are still preferred due to the quality of education they offer.

“What attracts the parents to these schools is high-quality education at an affordable cost. If their fee also starts touching Rs 50,000 per annum it is as good as sending the children to one of the new schools which we wouldn’t otherwise prefer,” said a parent.

Times View
Education today is a flourishing business and, given the huge demand for quality education, the number of private schools in the city has multiplied like it has in the rest of the country. Fee structures have shot over the years with schools adding facilities and activities that were unheard of until a decade or so ago. While these changes are welcome for the holistic development of a child, what is disturbing is the monetary burden on parents. Schools are beefing up their incomes to pay taxes. But they need to keep the interest of the parents in mind and ensure that education does not become an unaffordable commodity.

January 01, 2012

Friends,

Another year passed....we are still working for the cause we thought was worth taking up as individuals, then joined hands, became a group and now remained as friends.

Let us welcome 2012 with Hope and Warmth, wish you and your family members a great year ahead.

We will continue to work for the cause we took up in this year also...
Our politicians continue to let us down, as we see in the case of Janlokpal...still...we need to keep the flame on....

Cheers,
Subbu