Education Pays

by Syed Asma

A new school has come up in the vicinity of the University of Kashmir. Having more than three dozen operative branches across the globe, it is introduced as a brand. Now that it is an ‘established’ brand, it asks for a due expenditure! A friend of mine says, if my ward qualifies for the rounds of interview, I need to pay Rs 1 lakh besides the monthly fee and the transportation fee.

Neither did he crack a joke nor did he exaggerate, I was shocked!

Rs 1 lakh, I would have written it in figures but I don’t know the exact number of zeros. The amount is gargantuan and that too for a primary class.

This school is a new entry, but it is not the only one. An ‘elite school’ located in the outskirts of the city, almost ten years old takes Rs 90,000 as admission fee besides monthly fee and the transportation charges. Interestingly, the amount is taken in cash only!

The fee collection day is a scene worth watching. Accountants sit beside big card board boxes filled with cash like modern day aristocrats, says a parent.  It is a norm in all the schools, particularly in Srinagar, and is led by the ‘elite’ schools.

Is somebody monitoring?

So far, the Supreme Court of India (SC) took cognizance and directed each state government to constitute a committee for the fixation of fee structure of their Private Education Institutions. The committee was to be headed by a retired High Court Judge nominated by the Chief Justice of India.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Committee was headed by Justice Bilal Nazki. He was supposed to look into 6000 schools across the state. The deadline set to streamline things was October – November 2013 for Kashmir.

But not much is seen on ground. The committee could not even put a check on the fee hikes.

Interestingly, when the members of the committee were asked about the reasons, they said, we cannot act on our own; we need to have complaints from parents!

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