Harassed for refusing to buy unnecessary books, charged exorbitant rates and told to buy from a single vendor; students and parents of Baldwin Group of Insititutions in Bengaluru have run from pillar to post for justice.
After days of fear and anxiety, the parents were relieved as the Karnataka State Child Protection Commission on Friday found their complaints to be legitimate.
The KSCPC chief Kripa Alva, in her order, directed the Deputy Director of the Department of Public Instruction to revoke the No Objection Certificate issued to the institute and also asked the ICSE Board to intervene immediately in the matter.
â€śThe children who do not have books and whose parents are before the Commission are mentally and physically harassed, thereby violating RTE (Right to Education) Act. The Commission is of the opinion that since the respondent school is violating and flouting norms of the RTE, the DDPI is directed to withdraw the No Objection Certificate issued to the respondent school immediately and inform the ICSE Board. The ICSE Board is to be informed of the respondent schoolâ€™s change in syllabus without permission or information to the Board or parents,â€ť the order states.
The KSCPC noted that the â€śrespondent schoolâ€™s representatives were absentâ€ť for the hearing despite â€śhaving full knowledge of the hearing dateâ€ť.
â€śSince the matter is urgent, as the children who have not purchased the books from the select vendors of the respondent schools are finding it difficult to cope with studies matter is heard finally,â€ť the KSCPC order states.
Speaking to TNM, Murali, one of the parents who spearheaded the protest, said that he feels relieved as the ICSE Board will now intervene.
"Now that the NOC of the school will be withdrawn, the ICSE Board will have to intervene and sort out the issue. We were pushed against the wall and this has come as a relief. If the school continues to flout norms, we will have to move the High Court," Murali added.
The parents whose children study in schools run by the Baldwin group approached various organisations over being charged an exorbitant price for books, and being forced to buy them from a single vendor. They also protested against the lack of a proper booklist and a change in syllabus, among other things.
The parents alleged that they were asked to give demand drafts in favour of a vendor much before the booklist was released. They also pointed out that circulars were issued and entries were made in the diary given by the school to students regarding the payment for books in March. However, school authorities maintain that the list was only released on May 2.
As per the list of books decided by the school for the upcoming academic year, the school decided to move away from NCERT books to those published by the Singapore-based education publication XSEED, among others.
Parents showed that the vendor, who was selling the books, was doing so with the schoolâ€™s logo, even as the school maintained that they had no knowledge regarding the demand drafts collected by teachers, the vendors or the logos used. To this, the Commission asked the school to file a complaint against the vendor.
During the hearing on June 4, it also came to light that the school did not have had a Parent Teacher Association, and nor did they consult parents before they changed the syllabus.