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Don’t make parents buy uniforms, books from vendors you endorse, BMC tells Mumbai schools

The letter comes after a similar advisory was issued by the CBSE asking schools to stop selling books, stationary and uniforms from private retailers.

mumbai Updated: Apr 26, 2017 09:37 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
BMC,CBSE,mumbai schools
The BMC threatened to take action if schools indugle in commercial activity of any kind.(HT File)

A week after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had asked its schools to stop selling books printed by private publishers, the civic body has warned all schools in the city to not force parents to buy uniforms and stationery from particular retailers.

In a letter sent to all aided and unaided schools in Mumbai on Tuesday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has threatened to take action if the schools indulge in commercial activities of any kind with any agency. It is applicable to all private and government primary schools under the purview of the civic body. “The Bombay Book Publishers Association and schools have been told that they cannot make it compulsory for parents to purchase any school material from them or any selected vendor,” read the letter issued by deputy education officer.

The letter comes after a similar advisory was issued by the CBSE last week asking schools not to sell books, stationery, uniforms or shoes.

Currently, most Mumbai schools force parents to buy all school-related material from either them or the vendors endorsed by them. The parents are charged exorbitant amounts, much higher than the market price.

A parent from Vibgyor School, Malad, complained that the school asked them to pay Rs40,000 annually for extra-curricular activities, school uniforms and books. It is mandatory for students to buy branded shoes from vendors selected by the school. “Black shoes of a particular brand are compulsory for students and they cost a lot,” said the parent. “I don’t understand why parents are not free to choose which shoes they want to buy for their child.”

Justifying their actions, school representatives said common vendors help them maintain uniformity. “Non-state boards use books from varied publishers, so it is tough for parents to source them out on their own. We even provide stationery to avoid disparities in brands and quality,” said Kavita Aggarwal, chief academic advisor, JBCN International Schools. She added that it also helps parents get all the material from one place.

But activists said such commercial activities generate considerable revenue for schools. “Schools tie up with vendors and either share profits or are paid commission on every sale,” said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education, a parents’ citizen group, which recently staged a protest against unjustified school fee hikes. He said schools are registered as charitable organisations, so it is illegal for them to opt for profiteering.

Read more:Govt to look into making NCERT books compulsory for CBSE schools

First Published: Apr 26, 2017 09:37 IST