Commission needed to regulate school admissions

KOCHI: Running an unaided school was once considered the ultimate social service. But today, school education has become the domain of fortune hunters. There is perhaps hardly a more lucrative business than running a CBSE-affiliated school under the guise of promoting education. And most parents would testify to this reality.

There is big money in the form of capitation fee and regular fee hikes that run into tens of millions and the accounts are not practically accessible to parents who are otherwise empowered by the bye laws to see and vet these accounts before being ratified.

There is a comprehensive set of bye laws under the CBSE to regulate affiliated schools, the highlight of which is that it disallows the Trust or Society/Management to make profit or collect capitation fee from the parents on account of admission of students.

But in reality, the parents are required to cough up amounts of Rs50,000 and upwards towards capitation fee in order to bag a seat in these prestigious schools run by the ‘socially committed’ Trusts/managements.

Even the regular fee hikes, with many schools doing it every year by 10 or 15 per cent, have become unaffordable to most parents though the bye laws insist that these hikes have to be done in consultation with parents and should be adopted only as a last resort to plug the deficit in the school running budget. Bye laws have made it amply clear that running CBSE schools cannot be viewed as a business.

But in reality, the parents who talked to said that most Trusts/managements throw these bye laws into the wind. They also argue that since these schools are given licences under no objection certificates (NOC) from state governments, these governments are liable to regulate the running of these schools.

Due to the continued uproar against the self-financing professional colleges earlier, the government was forced to take steps to regulate these colleges through the appointment of a commission. “I think it is high time the state government stepped in and did the needful to regulate them,” said a parent.

But some Trusts deny taking capitation money and argue that those donations are being collected for different purposes, and not on behalf of the educational institutions under the trust.

But the parents are not ready to buy this argument. “How come these donations are registered almost during the same period (admission period) and how come these donations are sourced from the same set of parents, who seek admission for their kids,” they questioned.

Moreover, most of these donations are for the same amount proving that these are simply capitation fee. The laws are comprehensive and the checks designed on paper are good enough to ensure that the Trusts do not take the parents for a ride, but the result is unfortunately otherwise.

The parents also complain that every other year or in some cases, every year, the school managements raise fee on the pretext that these are collected to fill the deficit in the expenses. But the law insists that the management takes cognizance of the management committee where parents also sit, before carrying out any fee hikes.

The law also stipulates that the fees charges should be commensurate with the facilities provided by the institution. “No capitation fee or voluntary donations for gaining admission in the school or for any other purpose should be charged / collected in the name of the school. In case of such malpractices, the Board may take drastic action leading to disaffiliation of the school,” the CBSE law says.

It also adds that no part of the income from the institution shall be diverted to any individual in the Trust/ Society/School Management Committee or to any other person. The savings, if any, after meeting the recurring and non-recurring expenditure and contributions to developmental, depreciation and contingency funds may be further utilized for promoting the school.

The managements are supposed to audit and certify the accounts by a Chartered Accountant and proper accounts statements should be prepared as per rules. A copy each of the Statement of Accounts should be sent to the Board every year.



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