The struggle for the parents whose children study in the Baldwin group of institutions continues to worsen, with some students still attending school with no books. Multiple protests have been held by the parents, but nothing has changed.
The school has challenged the order given by the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) in the Karnataka High Court which had asked the school management to resolve the issue with the parents. The issue will come up for hearing on July 30.
The Commission, in its order, said that the students forced to study without books have been physically and mentally harassed and that the school was violating the norms of the Right to Education Act.
The parents whose children study in schools run by the Baldwin group had approached various organisations after being charged an exorbitant price for textbooks. In some cases, up to four books were prescribed for a single subject and parents were being forced to buy them from a single vendor.
The parents have also protested against the school moving to books published by the Singapore-based education publication XSEED. While the school maintains that XSEED was chosen after much deliberation, the parents say that they have found the books to be overpriced and abundant with errors.
â€śIn this new curriculum, the books are exorbitantly expensive, almost double the charges at which we bought the books last year. Youâ€™re forced to buy the books because your children need to go to school and study. But when compared to the content in other well-known publications, the parents have found so many grammatical, theoretical and conceptual errors in these books. I donâ€™t even know for what reason they have opted for XSEED. They do not even have an answer to give us,â€ť says Rina, a parent.
However, the issues are not just limited to the management continuing with XSEED. The weight of the bags the children were being forced to carry was also raised by the parents. They have also alleged that they have been harassed when they went to speak to the management.
Now, the teachers have also got into the fray as they are being blamed for the things that have taken place. During the previous academic year, the teachers had reportedly collected demand drafts in favour of a single publisher for the current academic yearâ€™s books. Ten of these teachers, who did not support the school switching to XSEED, have reportedly been issued transfer orders.
From 3 pm to 9 pm on Friday evening, around 80 teachers held a protest at the Baldwin Girls School after the management blamed them for collecting the demand drafts. Their demands included the removal of XSEED and the resignation of two school officials.
Murali, another parent leading the fight against the school over the exorbitant pricing and the books, is optimistic that they will emerge victorious.
â€śThey are not challenging the parents. They have challenged the KSCPCR order. They did not pass an order just like that. Unless there was merit, they would not have done so. They very clearly asked the management to sit across the table with the parents to sort out the issue. However, they went to court. I do not think anything will come on the schoolâ€™s side. They were supposed to sort out the issue, but they decided to arm-twist instead,â€ť he said.