The tussle between parents and schools over fee hike has intensified, especially in view of the new academic year after the physical reopening of schools. In some, there has been a 100 per cent school fee hike in bus fees, and parents alleged that the schools are trying to make up for the losses incurred over the past two years due to the pandemic-induced lockdown.
One of the schools which have come under the scanner recently is Matushree Kashiben Vrajlal Valla (MKVV) International School in Borivli. Many parents were in for a shock when earlier this month they were greeted with a new fee structure, which increased by as much as 100 per cent for many. “The total fee structure is different for different parents as the bus fee, included in the structure, varies. We can understand if they hike the fees by 10 or 15 per cent, but this is outrageous. As per the circular, the school fee was Rs 38,000, but on the portal it was Rs 69,000 for me. When I asked, I was told that the remaining amount is the bus fee. How can bus fees jump from Rs 12,000-Rs 15,000 to Rs 31,000? Is the school recovering their losses by extorting from the parents?” asked one parent.
Kapol Vidyanidhi International School in Kandivli has recently come under police scanner for allegedly making students sit in a laboratory instead of their classrooms over due fees. File pic
Talking about the issue of fee hikes in general, Nimisha Singh, Principal of MKVV International school agreed that schools are blamed whenever fees are hiked, however, nobody is concerned about the expenses school managements incur, like teachers` salaries and other expenses.
Elaborating on the issue of MKVV school Singh said, “In my own school, the last time we raised fees was in 2018. This time we have raised school fees by only 10 per cent. In fact, we had reduced the fees these past two years. Yes, we have raised bus fares, too, but we also need to meet the needs of bus contractors who have suffered losses. During a pandemic, everyone has suffered, not just parents. We paid the bus staff, yet did not charge it from parents for the last two years. Besides, our buses are air-conditioned, and we have GPS, and CCTV on all our buses. In comparison to other schools in the area, ours has a much lower fee structure. Still, the facility we offer is on par, like we teach AI and coding in our school.”
Podar international school, Nerul is also among the schools which, parents claimed, raised their fees. Citing that the state government had directed schools to collect only tuition fees these past two years as only online classes were taking place, parents alleged that the school management merged the term fees with tuition fees for the academic year 2021-22, which led to a 26 per cent increase.
Sunil Choudhari, parent and member of Navi Mumbai Parents Association, said, “The school has openly violated the fee regulation act. Instead of helping the parents, they have overburdened them with a fee hike. We have demanded that the education department initiate action.”
Meanwhile, the school management issued notices to parents who have not paid the fees and has also dragged a group of parents to court for protesting outside schools.
Aiming to resolve the issue, the education department of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) conducted a hearing of both parents and school management. “We called parents and the school management and heard both sides. The school management has to run the school and offer all facilities and at the same time, they have incurred losses in the past two years. Parents too said that these two years were hard on them, and the fee hike would just worsen the case. We will try to resolve the issue soon,” said Aruna Yadav, education officer at NMMC.
In another instance, a Kandivli school has come under police scanner over discrimination against students over non-payment of fees. The parents complained that the management at Kapol Vidyanidhi International School made students, whose fees were pending, sit in a laboratory instead of their classrooms, following which an FIR was filed against the school last week.
“We have been fighting with the school for the past two years. All we are saying is we will not pay fees for facilities our children did not use as they attended online sessions throughout the pandemic. But the school made our kids sit in the laboratory for two-three days, traumatising our children,” said Krina Shah, one of the parents, and the complainant.
Dr Reshma Hedge, principal of Kapol Vidyanidhi International School, denied allegations of harassment of students and said, “These parents want to hold the school administration hostage and dictate their terms. These parents refused to pay the fees and also did not seek concession by providing any proof of financial crisis. We have granted concessions and even waivers to several parents.”