Sunday, July 12, 2009

School Mints

My daughter’s School’s Chairman was roughed up by parents.

Andhra Pradesh proposes a fee ceiling for private schools.

My daughter’s current school Timpany, is supposedly one of the better schools in Visakhapatnam. When she started school there was much debate about which school she should go to. And I remember poring over lists, speaking to various parents, friends and researching other sources. At the end of it, we decided that our daughter should go to another school, Visakha Valley School.

What decided our choice was an excellent argument from one of our friends. She said every school has its good teachers and bad teachers. And your child will be concerned about the teachers. The management of the school makes for a good school or a bad school and the child never comes in contact with the management. Hence no matter which school you choose, the quality of teaching will not be much different. I found that excellent advice. We chose a school which had much better ambience, larger, free and open spaces, and with smaller class strengths. And we never regretted our decision.

Timpany, however, seems to be part of her fate. She went to Timpany for her 11th and 12th class as this school offered the combination of subjects which we wanted. And that’s where we got embroiled in the management problems. Timpany has a history of management problems. With stories of the director embezzling funds to now this insane fee-hike.

Timpany, this year, arbitrarily increased its fees by 80%. Without prior information to parents. Suddenly. When we opened the fee book in June we saw that the fees have been almost doubled. The management had played clever and dirty. They waited until June. They did not inform anyone. We could not pull our kids out of the school and take them elsewhere. We were stuck. The problem was the method adopted. The slyness and underhand way of going about the monumental increase in fees. Parents with 2 or 3 kids in school would feel a major crunch.

The parent’s association has raised a hue and cry. They have been fighting the management, have brought orders from the District Department of Education. But to no avail. The management is adamant, inspite of ‘dharnas’ in front of the school.

In this context and atmosphere, the AP government’s proposal for a fee ceiling is welcome. Private schools have become places of rip-offs. They charge incredibly high fees, but the quality of teachers is less than mediocre. For eg. the teachers of the two most difficult subjects for my daughter – maths and accounts, are much less than mediocre. The children do not understand a word of what is being taught. And we spend tons on tuitions. Classroom and toilet conditions, simple comfort levels, attention to non-academic and creative activities etc. are much less than adequate.

Education, has become like politics. A dirty place. A quick, fast way of making huge money, and a no-options situation for the public. A mint for the owner. With so much push and awareness about education, every parent now, whatever economic situation, vies for the best education for the child. But do we get it ? Education has remained mediocre. Teaching methodologies, management policies, classroom and school conditions have not shown the escalation that the fees have shown.

I am not even going into education and its impact on the child – that is another can of worms.

Under these conditions, what is the common (wo)man supposed to do ?

1 comment:

  1. That was good. My children are in Kendriya Vidyalay and we havent had to face such situations mercifully. The KVs all have large spaces and activities and we have come to know the teachers well. In Calcutta as well as in Thane.