Hyderabad: Parents of private school children in Telangana organised a dharna in front of the office of the director of school education (DSE) in Saifabad on Monday demanding legislation to regulate the high fees in private schools. The dharna was jointly organised by the Telangana Parents Association (TPA), Telangana Schools, Tech Colleges Staff Association (TSTCSA), Mothers Association, and Child Rights Protection Forum (CRPF).
The parents who participated in dharna submitted a memorandum to the director of school education mentioning their demands. The high fees in private schools in Telangana have been a problem for many years. Despite different parents' groups and other stakeholders giving representation to the government regarding the issue, nothing much has changed.
Elaborating on the issue, N. Narayana, the president of Telangana Parents Association (TPA), said, "The fees for all professional courses have been regulated with the formation of Telangana Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (TAFRC). For BTech course in a private college in Telangana, one has to pay a minimum of Rs. 35,000 and a maximum of Rs. 1,34,000 per year. Whereas in a private school in Telangana, an LKG student has to pay more than Rs. 1 lakh as fees for a year and up to class 10, the fee ranges between Rs. 1 lakh and Rs.4 lakh."
He pointed out that compared to other states, the private school fee is higher in Telangana. "Around eight states have implemented private fee school regulation Act. The Telangana government had said that it will bring legislation in the budget session. But now that's over and no legislation has been enacted yet," said Mr. Narayana.
The protesters also rejected both the proposals put forth by the state education department on this issue in its meeting on 2 March. The proposals were to cap the fee hike at 10% every year and forming a school-level committee to fix the fees. The 10% hike, they said, would only give a stronger hand for the private school management to loot the parents. They also demanded that instead of a school-level committee, a state-level committee on par with TAFRC should be formed to regulate fees.
G. Bhagyalakshmi, the president of the Mothers Association, said the government should do something about it within two months before the schools reopen in June. Even if there is no Assembly session before June, the government should bring a law through an ordinance, she said.
The Mothers Association is a group formed by the mothers of school-going kids across the state where they discuss various problems that their children face. As a person who hears a lot of parents' concerns, Ms. Bhagyalakshmi said many times parents have no proper jobs and when they are unable to pay the school fees, they take their children out of school and send them to work. "It is a problem in every house, not just the poor but even some of the middle and upper-class houses. In the last two years, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no respite in the private school fees," she added.