Schools continue to fleece parents

Prajakta Joshi
Friday, 29 March 2019

While RTE has opened entry to students from the economically weaker classes (EWC) to the big schools free of cost, the parents, in many cases, are still charged for undue fees by these schools, especially private ones. In a three-part series, Sakal Times speaks with several stakeholders and activists regarding the loot of the parents by the school management

PUNE: The admissions to schools under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act have received a tremendous response from parents in Pune city and district, the unethical charging of the amount under various heads by the schools have irked the parents. 

Every year, the number of applications exceeds the number of vacancies, at times crossing double the number of applications. At the same time each year, a number of complaints where the schools loot these parents by charging money under various heads against the rules too are rising. While the tuition fees cannot be charged from these students, the schools usually find some excuses in the name of extra activities to take money from the parents.

EXCUSES TO LOOT PARENTS
In an incident reported at a school in Pimpri-Chinchwad on Thursday, the parents of a RTE student were asked to pay Rs 17,000 for various extra circular activities and also refused to give any receipt in exchange of the payment.

“My child is in Class II this year. Our child got admission at the school last year under RTE. This year, they asked us to pay fees of Rs 15,000, which they said would be required for supplying art and craft, as well as science project material to the child,” he said.

For two pairs of uniform, they charged us Rs 2,000 more. We did pay the fees thinking that our child is at least getting the opportunity to study in a good school, but we were shocked when they refused to give an acknowledgement receipt,” the parent said on condition of anonymity.

It is wrong on part of any school to take any kind of fee from RTE students, Sunil Kurhade, Education Officer, Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) told Sakal Times.

He added, “While we have not received any complaints as such this year, the parents should go to the education authorities in their areas in case of any such instances.”

“This kind of incidents are very common in the city and RTE parents are asked for undue amounts of money by many schools in the city,” RTE activist Mukund Kirdat of AAP Palak Union said.

There is a school in Vadgaon Sheri area that asked the RTE parents to pay some amount of fees as they did not receive any reimbursement. The schools find ways to force the parents into giving them money. When the parents know that the regular fees of that particular school is over Rs 50,000 or so, they also avoid making noise for a few thousand, Kirdat added.

There have been several cases in the city where the parents have been charged between Rs 5,000 to 15,000.

FEAR AND LACK OF AWARENESS
What usually helps the school succeed is the fear that the child might face discrimination at the school.

RTE students often face discrimination at big schools. Many times, if the parents refuse to pay fees, the children are excluded from activities and events. The parents then end up paying the charges to avoid their child of this embarrassment and complex, Kirdat stated.

He further said, “On even a greater number of occasions, parents are not aware that they are not supposed to pay any fees to the schools. We had suggested that the applications forms should have all these rules written so that the parents keep them in mind. But that never happened.”

WHAT SHOULD THE PARENTS DO?
If at all a school asks for extra money for admissions under RTE, the parents should immediately approach the concerned education officer. In the case of rural areas, the education officer at the respective ZPs is responsible. 

For Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, complaints can be registered with education officers at the respective municipal corporations.

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