Many unaided schools across the city are increasing fees for the new academic year, citing lack of funds to meet the expenses of students admitted under the 25% quota of the Right to Education Act.
An SSC school in Andheri has hiked its fees by Rs.2,500 for general category students to provide free education to the lower-income quota students, and Kangaroo Kids Education Limited and Billabong High International School (BHIS) has increased its fees by 10 to 15%.
Schools said they were forced to hike fees as they haven't received the approximately Rs11,000 per student reimbursement from the state government for students admitted through the quota.
“We have no choice but to recover the money from open category students. The government has not yet reimbursed us and we cannot keep waiting,” said Perin Bagli, principal, Activity High School, Peddar Road.
Schools claimed the reimbursement is less than private schools’ fees.
“We are hiking fees because of escalating rent, increased costs of water and electricity, and expenditure on RTE students. The government reimbursement is less than our school fees,” said Lina Asher, founder-chairperson of Kangaroo Kids Education Limited and BHIS.
Some schools are also illegally charging students admitted under the quota last year.
“We have lodged complaints with the education department against two Goregaon schools charging RTE students admitted in 2012,” said Avisha Kulkarni, director of the NGO Desh Seva Samiti.
Parents are feeling the pinch. ‘’My son’s school hiked fees this year by 30%. They told us this was so they could give free seats to quota students,” said Alankar Kumbhar, a parent from Airoli.
Worst hit are low-income students in the open category in unaided schools.
“My family income is barely Rs.8,000 and my daughter’s school hiked its fees to Rs.2,500 from Rs.1,750 a month,’’ said a single mother from Andheri, who works as a domestic help. "This was the only good school I could afford. Does she not have the right to education?" she added.