Srinagar: Private schools in Kashmir, under the cover of a status quo order from the High Court, have hiked the tuition and other fees by a substantial 15 per cent, which has left many parents worried.
One of the leading private missionary schools has hiked the fees by Rs 350 per month, an increase of 18 per cent over the fees charged last year. In fact, the school has increased the tuition fees over the past three years by almost 100 per cent now.
"When my daughter got admission in this school in 2010, the monthly tuition fee was only Rs 1200. From this month onwards, I am supposed to pay Rs 2300 per month," Mohammad Shafi, a parent, said.
He said the transportation charges have also nearly doubled in the past three years from Rs 600 per month to present Rs 1100. "There has been no hike in transportation charges this year so far," Shafi added.
Fayaz Ahmad, whose two daughters are enrolled in a leading `Girls Only` school of the valley, said the school management had thrown all government guidelines and the Supreme Court orders to wind.
"There is strict ban on capitation fees or donations imposed by the Supreme Court. However, the school charged Rs 25,000 as donation and even gave a receipt for the same," he claimed.
Ahmad said the school management has affected an increase of 15 per cent in the tuition fees this year.
The schools are also imposing annual sundry charges like development fees, library fees and medical fees.
The schools are even putting the synonyms to good use. One of the schools has levied Rs 575 for `Excursion and Extracurricular` activities and another Rs 575 per year as `Physical Training and Outings` charge.
Many parents are complaining that despite availing so many
benefits from the government, including land at nominal rent, these private schools were fleecing the people in the naming of imparting quality education.
The missionary schools in the valley have been given hundreds of acres of land in prime areas on a nominal rent as low as Rs 100 per acre for improving the education scenario. However, the schools are now seen as commercial enterprises which earn crores of rupees every year through donations, admission fees and exorbitant tuition fees.
Acting on orders of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in a public interest litigation filed last year, the state government in May this year formed a committee headed by Justice (retired) Bilal Nazki to look into the fee structure and facilities provided by these schools.
The mandate of the committee was to grade the schools according to infrastructure, quality of faculty and other services and suggest fees slabs for them.
The committee failed to take off immediately as the government could not provide an office for it to start work. In the meantime, an organisation of private schools approached the court with the plea to quash the government order that led to formation of the committee.
The High Court last month directed the state government to file objections to the plea within three weeks and ordered the parties to maintain status quo on the matter.
"We had started the proceedings but the High Court has now ordered status quo," Justice Nazki said.
He said further proceedings will be carried out once the High Court issues some clear directions in the matter.
Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri said while there are no clear directions from the High Court in the case, maintaining the status quo should have meant that nothing, including the existing fees, should change till further orders.
"There is nothing in the orders that can stop the government appointed committee to continue the proceedings as the committee had started functioning before the petition was filed," Qadri said.