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Questions persist on school fees

Liffy Thomas

Parents want G.O. to be issued

CHENNAI: The declaration of the fee structure by the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee for schools that had appealed may have ended the anxiety for many, but several questions of parents and institutions remain unanswered. “What is the excess fee that schools can collect in the name of smart classrooms, textbooks, notebooks, uniforms and transportation?” and “Can a fee structure hold good for three years?”

The revised annual fee structure of nearly 530 schools in Chennai, which include nursery, primary, high and higher secondary schools, were put up on the website www.tn.gov.in on Friday.

Among the schools collecting the highest fee structure for L.K.G are A.M.M. Matriculation Higher Secondary School (Rs. 20,150), Harrington House Nursery and Primary School, Egmore (Rs.20,000) and Kids Central Nursery and Primary School, Kotturpuram (Rs.19,450). In class XII, the schools are SBOA Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Anna Nagar (Rs. 25,000) and P.S. Senior Secondary School, Mylapore (Rs. 20,200). ‘NF' is mentioned for schools with no recognition and they are not allowed to collect fee.

The Committee has specified that the annual fee amount is “inclusive of various heads such as admission fee, library fee, maintenance and amenities fee and other recurring expenditure and development charges.”

Additional overheads

Other additional overheads such as smart classes, books and notebooks, uniforms and transportation are not included in the fee, which schools are allowed to collect separately, thus raising questions among parents. “The revised fee structure has become a licence for management to charge more fees,” says K. Murugan, president of the PTA, SBOA Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Mogappair. “How much is the book fee? Who decides that?,” he asks. Many think that could also have been brought in the ambit while deciding the fee of a class.

Many parents such as D.C. Kesavan feel the exercise is a mere waste if the government does not ensure that it is enforced strictly. “A G.O. should be brought out, only then do schools take it seriously. Before the committee was formed, I paid Rs. 6,000 for three months, now it is Rs. 9,750 for my son who studies in class I,” says Mr. Kesavan.

Quite a number of schools, however, are happy that the committee has heeded to many of their request, at least to some extent.

“The Committee has approved 80-90 per cent of my fee, which I am happy about. Also, it has made it clear what is included and what is excluded,” said B. Purushothaman, principal of Everwin Matriculation Higher Secondary School. He adds that as the fee structure holds good until 2012-13, “I may not be able to increase salaries of my teachers and add other amenities.”

Ramesh Lamba, general secretary of Punjab Association Group of Schools, says that the exercise has not been done systematically. “All these years, I have been collecting the same amount for my three schools that have the same kind of infrastructure. But now the Committee has fixed different fee structure for all the three schools,” he says, adding the fee structure varies between Rs. 2,000 to Rs.3,000. Mr. Lamba thinks problems would arise as teachers in two different schools would be paid differently. “The teaching staff will be unhappy,” he adds.

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