A day after local bodies minister Anil Joshi directed Amritsar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam to handle the fee-hike issue seriously, three teams of the district education department conducted surprise inspection at various private schools in the city.
The teams headed by district education office (DEO, secondary education) Satinder Bir Singh, his deputy Satish Kumar and district science supervisor (DSS) Sudeep Kaur checked fee structure and accounts of schools besides talking to students about charges being levied in the name of development funds, books and stationery.
DSS Sudeep Kaur’s team inspected Amritsar Public School, Delhi Public School and St Francis School, Jandiala. Following the inspection, she said: “It is shocking to see that schools are pocketing huge sums of money through provisional admissions, dummy admissions, development funds, commission based-counters, etc. Today, we also found that some refundable caution money is being taken by students, which stays with the management from the time of admission till the time student leaves the school. Schools earn huge interest on this money. Development funds need to be checked too.”
Education official Aman Sharma, who was accompanying the DSS, said: “There needs to be transparency in school accounts. Balance sheets lack clarity. Managements have smart chartered accountants to help them make money. We have to see if manipulations have been carried out.”
Other team members, Rajwinder Singh and Pardeep Kalia, questioned when schools are charging high monthly fee, what is the need to levy annual charges. “Private schools are charging anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 as annual charges,” they said.
The team also found that schools are forcing students to buy shoes and uniform with tampered retail price. In the kindergarten section, schools are making a lot of money through high transportation charges, sports facilities and paid workshops.
“Parents are also to be blamed for this situation. Trying to get their children admitted to elite schools offering high-end facilities, they have forgotten that what a child needs is good education to succeed in life. After inspection, we will request the state government to formulate strict policies for the education sector,” said Sudeep Kaur.
DEO keeps mum
The DEO along with his team of three other officials visited DAV Public School and ordered the management to shut down shops running on the campus. However, despite repeated calls, Singh did not respond to give details about the inspection.
Sources said the team found that the school had hiked the fee by around 14.5% besides collecting other charges as well.
Congress demands probe
Congress leader Mandeep Singh Manna slammed the stated government for failing to handle the ongoing fee-hike issue effectively and formulating policies to regulate private schools. Targeting the Chief Khalsa Diwan Charitable Society during a press conference here on Tuesday, Manna said it was fleecing parents in the name of donations, building funds and other expenses. The Congress leader demanded a probe into the matter.