Mumbai-based private firm gives ‘discount’ on school fees, vigilant parents raise red flag

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Published on Sep 26, 2020 12:16 AM IST
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ByAnkita Bhatkhande, Mumbai

Mumbai

Several parents from private schools across the city on Friday wrote to the state education department complaining against a private company which offered them “discounts” on school fees.

Parents said they were approached by Pride Group, a private company that claimed to have tied up with the state government and promised to pay 50% of the fees on the behalf of parents.

“The company said they would give us discounts depending on the fee that our school charged. In return, we were asked to pay 2,500 to the personal account of one of their heads,” said the parent of a Vile Parle-based school. Parents were also asked to submit several documents like the Aadhaar card, copies of their child’s school calendar, photographs, etc.

Anil Sabale, deputy director of education for the Mumbai region, said the education department would give out a disclaimer on all its websites stating that it had nothing to do with this company. “We will do so after we see the complaints filed by parents. Meanwhile, we urge parents not to fall for such traps,” Sabale said.

When HT contacted, Soni Shelar, a representative who had approached a few parents asked the reporter to speak to her office staff. An employee named Nazim, who identified herself as the manager of the company, said, “We do not have any recognition from the Central or state government. We are not an NGO or trust even and are only a private firm.”

When asked about their funding model, Nazim said, “We have a mediator who does this work for us and parents are thus charged a processing fee.”

She refused to comment when asked about the norms under which the company made such arrangements. As per the company’s website, it claims to be an “education centre in Mumbai” with its office based out of Bhendi Bazaar.

As per the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2011, private unaided schools can fix their fees. While the government has set a cap on extent of fee hike, there is no such provision for private companies to tie up with the government and schools to waive off students’ fees. Even scholarships offered by the Central and state government are for students from socially and economically backward classes.

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