Syed Rizwan Geelani
Srinagar: Over the years, getting admission in the kindergarten classes of the private schools has remained the first choice for the parents for so many facts and reasons.
One of the reasons is that the private schools provide exceptional and challenging educational experiences through extracurricular activities, besides focusing on the academics part as well.
Most of the schools encourage participation in extracurricular activities like sports, music, arts and clubs.
This involvement helps stimulate students in their studies and are also seen as motivated in other aspects as well.
No one can deny the fact that the majority of the private schools have taken a lead in providing the state of the art facilities to the kids which ultimately becomes the first attraction for the parents and the kids to get their admission in such schools.
To be more precise, it is only the infrastructure which has made the private schools first preference for the parents, otherwise government schools are second to none given the dedication of the teaching staff and their efforts in providing quality education to the school children.
Having said this, over the years several complaints have gone unnoticed against private schools for different violations, arbitrary functioning and fee hikes as per wishes and whims.
Apart from routine tuition fee, transport fee and other charges, the registration fees charged by the private schools at the time of kindergarten admissions has gone unnoticed by the competent authorities and moreover the parents have also ignored it as well, may be because they remain more focused on getting admission than the money charged by the institution.
Over the years, the private schools have been charging a huge amount as “registration fee” from the parents at the time of admission in kindergarten classes which is fixed by the schools as per their wishes and whims.
The Government in 2020 ordered that the admission form should be provided free of cost and only Rs. 200 should be charged as a registration fee at the time of submission of the admission form. The government had warned the private schools of action in case of any violation of the order.
Majority of the schools charge Rs 500 as registration fee from parents while in some schools it goes beyond Rs 800 which is completely in violation of government regulations.
Normally, the top notch schools in Kashmir receive over 1000 to 1200 applications against the intake of around 200 to 300 students. This is the first stage where these top notch private schools indulge in the commercialization of education by resorting to illegal profiteering and fleecing of the parents.
A top notch school in Baramulla has charged Rs 500 as registration fees in the kindergarten section besides Rs 80000 as admission fee and Rs 10000 as annual fees. Both, annual fees and admission fees have been fixed as per the wishes of the school management.
In Srinagar, one of the leading private schools has charged Rs 800 per candidate as registration fees for their admission in the kindergarten section. The school has received around 1300 applications from the parents against which only 200 to 300 students will be selected for the admission.
Going by the figures, the school has earned more than Rs 10 lakhs out of this registration fees which the schools earn every year and there is no accountability how the money is utilised by the school management.
Similarly another school in Srinagar city has charged Rs 500 as registration fees from the parents against Rs 200 as fixed by the competent authorities.
The crux is that charging huge amount as registration fees by these schools has become a lucrative business for these private educational institutions without giving any effort. Till date no school has been made accountable and asked to produce the school record showing the revenue generated from the registration fees and the expenditure incurred on the process.
The issue has gone unnoticed over these years as major focus remains on tuition fees and transport fees charged by the schools.
Besides registration fees charged by the schools arbitrarily the schools continue to fleece the parents by charging admission fees and other fees without giving any receipts against the amount charged by the schools.
Notably, the school fees are largely being addressed by the Fee committee from time to time. The Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) has taken several initiatives to tighten noose against private companies for fleecing of parents but somehow the exploitation of the parents at the time of charging registration fee by the schools has gone unnoticed or the issue has not been reported to the committee.
The kindergarten admission in private schools has remained a cause of concern over these years as the whole process is executed as per wishes and whims of these private schools.
The schools start the registration process as per timing of their choice not as per what’s determined by the government.
Now the government has already ordered shifting to the March session so the admissions should have been done in February so that students are ready to start the session by mid March.
But many schools have already started the admissions process. Let us not put the blame on only private schools for this but the government is equally responsible for it as it took around two months for the official announcement of the March session for lower classes.
The School Education Department in September 2020 ordered private schools in J&K to follow a uniform admission calendar for enrolling students in kindergarten classes.
The decision to implement a uniform admission calendar was taken on the recommendations of the FFRC to avoid exploitation of parents due to the different admission schedules in private schools.
As per the order, the admission process in JKBOSE affiliated private schools in Kashmir and winter zone Jammu was supposed to start from 3rd week of September followed by receipt of application forms from parents in the last week of September.
Finalisation of selection and displaying list of selected students and waiting list was to be done by October 10 followed by collection of fees by October 20.
Similarly in Jammu division, the admission notification was to be issued in the 3rd week of January followed by issuance and receipt of application forms in the last week of January.
The finalization and display of selected children and waiting is to be completed by February 10 and submission of fee from selected children be done by February 20.
Now coming to the point of charging registration fees by the schools. It seems that the authorities are unable to crack the whip and make private schools accountable for turning the process into a business.
The government should view the issue very strictly and it should ensure that there should be no commercialisation of the admission process and a justified amount should be charged from the parents as registration fees. Also, parents should play their role as well and should not allow schools to do any illegal profiteering during the admission process. Hope good sense prevails…!