Though the UT administration has drafted a policy for safe transportation of students, parents in the tricity are lamenting about the transport fee being charged from them in the name of ‘fresh guidelines’ of the education department.
‘Despite bus fare hike, safety still a concern’
In an anonymous letter received by Hindustan Times, a parent highlighted how St Anne’s Convent School, Sector 32, despite charging a hefty bus fee, does not take responsibility for students’ safety.
The parent, in the letter, had claimed that the school believes it to be transport operator’s duty to ensure student’s pick and drop.
The bus contractor, however, said the school authority has been in the loop about the hike.
When Hindustan Times verified the fact, it was gathered that the fee was increased by `150 after the department’s decision to introduce female attendants and install CCTV and GPS in buses in July.
Similarly, another parent of a UKG student in the same school, said while the prescribed fee was `1600, the bus contractor has been taking `1850 for the past two years, followed by an additional `150, post the guidelines.
This isn’t the only case. Other private schools in the tricity have increased the fee in the past two months.
Umesh Visht, whose child studies at St Soldier School, Sector 28, said, “It has become a money-making strategy for schools. Considering it is a one-time investment to install the equipment, why is the school charging extra money every month.”
While initially the fee increased was `250, followed by `100 in August, parents feel they are being fooled as children’s safety is still a concern. “I don’t mind paying as long as my kid is safe, but what can one say after the recent school bus accident, where the driver was drunk,” said Rotash Yadav, whose son was in the bus during the time of the accident.
Similarly, another parent whose child studies at The Gurukul, Panchkula, said the school charges over `2000 as monthly fee even from a student who has to picked and dropped in Panchkula itself. “Buses in the school do not have CCTV cameras, than why is the school charging so much since
April 2014,”said the parent.
Dept never instructed schools to increase bus fare
When HT questioned education secretary Sarvjit Singh about the same, he said, “From our side, we never issued any instruction to increase the fare.”
The secretary claimed the department was awaiting the data being compiled from various schools as per high court’s order.
DPI (schools) Rupinderjit S Brar, on the other hand, said, “How could schools increase fee hike without the department’s consultation.”
‘No school reduces fare when diesel prices go down’
City-based advocate and social activist Nitin Goyal submitted a representation to education secretary and transport secretary on Wednesday to regulate bus fare. Goyal said, “The fact that diesel prices have gone down by 25% within the last one year has never become a reason of slashing the school bus fares.”
Some schools with increased fare
Name of school Fee hike
Chtikara International, Sector 25 Rs 290
Banyan Tree,Sector 48 Rs 200 to Rs 350
St Soldier, Sector 28 Rs 250 followed by Rs 100 in Aug
In few other schools, while the data compiled by the department claimed the hike was by Rs 200, parents claimed the increase was over Rs 300.