The agitation over the hike in school fees in Delhi and the national capital region gained momentum on Wednesday.
As parents continued to protest outside schools, Bal Bharati Public School, Noida, declared a four-day holiday fearing a lockout. “We were informed about a planned agitation in front of the school. We didn’t want to risk the safety of our students and declared a holiday,” said principal S. Bhattacharjee.
In Faridabad, protests, dharnas and blockades on highways and at schools and administrative offices have become common. Some parents are on hunger strike. In response, at least 60 schools observed a one-day holiday last Friday.
Parents are furious. “The additional district magistrate had said schools shouldn’t charge fee arrears and the hike shouldn’t be more than 25 per cent,” said A.K. Singh, president of the Noida Parents Welfare Association. “But several schools haven’t gone along with the suggestions.”
The Delhi education department had passed an order to increase fees in a staggered manner with the hike ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 500 per month.
However, parents claim many schools have hiked tuition fees beyond that limit.
“Almost all schools have increased the security fee, building fund, development fund, annual charges and computer fee. So, overall increase is more than Rs 500 per month,” said Aanchal Sharma, a parent. “Schools increase fees by 10 per cent every year along with annual and development charges. During this economic crisis, they should consider parents’ position,” she added.
But the schools are in no mood to relent. “The government has already clarified that schools can increase tuition fees in order to pay increased salaries of teachers. Since we change 15 per cent of tuition fees as development fees, the latter is bound to increase,” said S.L. Jain, chairperson of National Progressive Schools’ Conference, an association of 100 public schools.