Exorbitant fees for private schools has been fast becoming a concerning issue for middle-class parents. So much so that parents had formed associations and forums to lobby against it. And like any other big city in India, the problem is acute in Bengaluru too.
But now, relief might be in sight for many parents in Bengaluru.
A notification issued by the Karnataka government to cap the fee hikes in private schools before the Karnataka polls, has now been enacted. This notification, issued to the Karnataka Education Institutions (Classification, Regulation and Prescription of curricula) Amendment Rules, 2018 which came through on Friday after relaxation of Model Code of Conduct, mandates schools to publish audit reports publicly and to cap fee hikes at not more than 15% every year.
Shashid Shradha of the Karnataka Schools Parent Association welcomed the move.
â€śThis is a very good decision, and this should have come much earlier,â€ť he said. But he has his doubts over the implementation. â€śWe do not know how the government is going to ensure the schools follow this. It should be implemented properly,â€ť he told TNM.
Similar fee structures had been in place in the state since 1983 but a survey of 17 Bengaluru schools by the government in 2016 found that institutions were levying as much as 138% over their regular expenses.
â€śMost schools violate existing regulations too. When they came to know that a circular will be issued, many schools have already collected the fees for the coming session after 15-20 days the annual exams,â€ť he added.
The new rules also dictate that all schools have to declare the fee for their next academic year by December 31. A regulation as such was last passed in 2000. A failure to comply with these rules will attract a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
According to this new norms, schools can charge a maximum of 70% more than the recurring cost in case of rural localities or upto 100% in case of Bengaluru city area.
Other points of the new notification include that the total fee should not exceed by 15% of the total fee, while the term fee cannot be more than 10% of the tuition fee.
Claiming the problem to be pan-state, Shahid said, â€śAs there is a mining mafia, land mafia, there is also an education mafia. Instead of other investments, these people are building schools after schools due to the lucrative nature of the business without any regulation.â€ť
Speaking to TNM, M Srinivasan, president of the CBSE Schools Association expressed displeasure about certain aspects of the notification.
â€śThey are asking for audit reports to be published on the website. We have reservations about that. Financials are something between the school and the I-T Department, the public has nothing to do with that. The area wise demarcation of fees is also problematic as there are schools which are just off the city limits but the facilities are the same in terms of cost,â€ť he argued.