The order from the department of primary and secondary education comes in the wake of complaints from several parents.

Karnataka private schools now cant force students to buy books uniforms from them
news Education Sunday, April 30, 2017 - 15:01

When the summer heat subsides and the month of June sets in, it will mark the beginning of another academic year for school students. But parents running around to buy textbooks, uniforms and other necessary things to get children ready for their new classes, have some respite this year: schools in Karnataka cannot force them to buy textbooks and uniforms only from them.

In most private schools in Karnataka, it has been standard practice for schools to make all the necessary items available at the school for sale, by either putting up a store or collaborating with chosen vendors. Over the years, many schools made it compulsory for parents to buy the products from them alone, often hiking up the prices.

However, the state department of primary and secondary education has now said that private schools can no longer insist that all the parents must purchase the necessary items from the school stores only.

In an order issued by the department of primary and secondary education, private schools have been asked not to insist that all parents should purchase books and other articles from the stores set up in the schools. This comes in the wake of complaints received from several parents, the department points out. 

Schools that violate the mandate would also reportedly invite penalties and can be ordered to pay a fine of Rs 10 lakh for the violation. 

The decision was taken not only on the basis of complaints from parents of students enrolled under the RTE Act that the schools were charging excess for books and uniforms, but also based on complaint from other parents pointing out the cost disparity. 

"Even general category parents have also filed complaint against a few schools in the state," Primary Education Minister Tanveer Sait was quoted as saying by The New Indian Express. 

However, when The News Minute reached out to a few parents whose children study in private schools in Bengaluru, there was mixed response from many, with many saying that buying the necessary items from the school was "convenient."

Sunitha*, parent of a 10-year-old and a member of a social media forum that discusses education says, "I have been keeping a close watch on discussions about education on social media and have observed that the issue of private schools making it mandatory for the parents to buy books, uniforms and other items from the school has always had a few parents opposing the idea." 

Aparna Saraswati, a working professional whose son studies in Class 3 at Vibgyor school in the city, however, feels that purchasing books and uniforms from the school is a matter of relief, especially when both the parents are working. 

"As far as I am concerned, I have always felt it is convenient that they make everything available at the school itself. I don't have to go around to different places hunting for different things. At the school, they sent the new books with the children once the school re-opens. Until last year, we had to go to the school to get the uniforms, but from this year on wards, they have made arrangements for it to be delivered home, which according to me, is super convenient." 

Bengaluru-based Srinivasan, whose child studies in Class 4 in a leading private school in the city, agrees. 

"For one, it’s not just about the textbooks that we purchase. Are textbooks alone competent enough to make our children learn better? At the school, we not only get the textbooks, but also workbooks and other books that help the learning processes better," he said. 

Srinivasan argues that the school gives ample options to the parents when it comes to choosing the vendors. 

"The school does not say that we have to buy them from only one vendor. They give us two or three options from which we can choose from, which is different than imposing something. After all, it’s better to get all the books from one place, since there will be uniformity," Srinivasan said. 

The inflated cost, if any, Srinivasan opines, is the part and parcel of "sending one's child to a private school." 

"By sending my child to a private school, I am also signing up to pay for better facilities. At the end of the day, the choice is up to the parents with regard to which school they want to send their children to." 

Earlier this month, the CBSE had asked all the schools under its board to not indulge in commercial activities and stop selling stationary, uniforms or any such items.


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