The new joke doing the rounds in Hyderabad is that the cost of private school education is so high, that it is acting as a natural means of birth control.
In the last few years, costs of schools in Hyderabad have skyrocketed to such dizzing heights, that the Hyderabad School Parents Association (HSPA) has decided to file a PIL in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana urging it to direct the government to intervene. Their decision comes after failing to get the government to respond in any meaningful manner.
Members of the HSPA, whose children study in schools across the city, say that even though this has been brought to the notice of the state government, these violations are rampant.
â€śIn addition to the admission fees and tuition fees, we (parents) are often burdened with additional expenses in the name of extra-curricular activities, school uniforms, exam fees, and transportation charges,â€ť said N Ravi,a 42-year-old parent.
Ravi said he knew of a parent who sold her jewellery to pay the school fees for her child as she had no other choice.
Such stories are abound in the city in the absence of any monitoring authority to regulate the fees charged by private schools.
While annual fees average at around Rs 1 lakh per year, an added burden the one-time fee charged by private schools at the time of admission. The one-time fee is a curious phenomenon. It is often an exorbitant amount charged in the name of admission fees, special fees, caution deposit and other headings.
For a long time, the association has been demanding that the government crackdown on schools which charge these fees as it is illegal. Despite the existence of a Government Order since 2009, capping the one-time fee that could be charged by private schools at Rs 5,000, schools continue to charge this amount.
â€śWe feel so helpless. We are not getting any support from the government,â€ť said Seema Agarwal, executive member of the HSPA. â€śSchool fees are also forcing us (parents) to opt for a single child. Many people have decided not to have a second child as it has become really difficult for them to afford the fees.â€ť
Another member of the association N Ravi said that the HSPA had met several government officials urging them to take action. After the association held a press conference in the second week of August, the government responded by forming a committee to look into the violations.
Ravi said that initially, the education minister had assured them that report would be made public after the Warangal by-elections. â€śHowever, it has been a month after the elections but we hardly got any response from him,â€ť he said.
Tired of waiting for an apathetic government, the association is planning several measures to spur officials into action.
â€śWe have planned several actions including protests and filing cases against government in courts to have our demands met. Until now, we had held back in hope of support, but weâ€™ve waited enough,â€ť said Kamal Mali Ramani, another member of HSPA.