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.”