Suicide of a 12-yr-old in Telangana brings debate over high school fees into focus

The police are still investigating the parents' claim.
Suicide of a 12-yr-old in Telangana brings debate over high school fees into focus
Suicide of a 12-yr-old in Telangana brings debate over high school fees into focus
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A 12-year-old boy, M Mahesh, killed himself early morning on Wednesday. His parents told the police that the child took the drastic step as he was not allowed to enter the school due to non-payment of fees. The police are still investigating the reason behind the child's death.

Mahesh was a seventh-grade student at Little Flower High School, Kavadiguda, residing at Padmashali Colony, Musheerabad.

The police are still investigating the case to verify the parents’ claim. However, the school officials have denied the allegation. They said they do not punish children for non-payment of fees and that they only make phone calls to the parents.

“The police has not confirmed yet if bullied or humiliated the child. We gave all the evidence the police asked for. Let them investigate and confirm,” said Nishith, the school spokesperson.

The Musheerabad police, who launched an investigation under Section 174 CrPc (suspicious death) on Thursday morning, visited the school and collected the CCTV footage and other documents.

The police are yet to review the footage to verify the parents’ claim that he was not allowed to enter the school for two days and sent back home over non-payments of school fees.

In February this year, a 14-year-old had killed herself over non-payment of school fees after returning from school. In her suicide note, she wrote that her school teachers did not allow her to attend an exam. The incident took place under the Malkajgiri police station limits, Rachakonda commissionerate.

In 2017, as many as 62 suicides were recorded among those below the age group of 20. This year, until June, the death toll stands at 28 under the Hyderabad commissionerate.

A flawed school fee structure

The death of children over non-payment of fee structures bring to focus the larger problem of the fee structures in the city.

School fees for a seventh-grade ward in the city hover anywhere between Rs 40,000 and Rs 3,000 per annum, but fees at some schools may even go up to Rs 2 lakh per annum.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had, at many instances, claimed he would provide free education to students from kindergarten to post-graduation if the Telangana state was formed. In 2014, after Telangana came into existence, the CM had announced that the free education policy would come into effect in 2015.

In 2018 also, the CM had made similar announcements; however, there has been little or no traction with regard to the implementation of this policy.

Members of the Hyderabad Student Parents Association (HSPA), who have had several instances, tried to grab the CM’s attention with songs and creative protests, where they came down on the state government’s lack of initiatives to cap the rising school fees in the city.

“It seems that the government of Telangana is behaving like Nero, busy playing its own tune, while young students are committing suicides in the state. It is ironical that this is happening in a state that has promised “free KG to PG” education and in a country where “free education” is a constitutional right. We have been warning about such suicides for a long time now. The CM and the Education Minister will be responsible for this and all such deaths related to school fees,” said the HSPA spokesperson to TNM.

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