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.
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.