Large number of private schools turn into ‘business houses’

Large number of private schools turn into ‘business houses’

Srinagar: Like previous years, large number of private schools in Kashmir have again allegedly turned into “business houses”, forcing parents to buy school uniforms for students at exorbitant rates from specific shops.

The parents complained that the private schools, particularly the top- notch institutions, have kept the uniforms available at specific shops, in violation of set norms of the competent authorities.

Notably the educational institutions reopened for routine schooling in March and the winter uniform was not made mandatory for school children.

The management of the private schools asked the students to attend their schools in proper uniform for the summer season but the parents have been asked to purchase the uniforms from the specific shops at Regal Chowk or Court Road Srinagar.

The aggrieved parents complained that the School Education Department (SED) which was supposed to ban this illegal profiteering by schools has failed to act against these erring schools accused of fleecing parents under the garb of providing education.

“The uniform set (Pant and Shirt) kept available at a specific shop costs Rs 1000 while the same set of uniform cost only Rs 400 to Rs 500 in the open market,” said Bilal Ahmad, a parent from Srinagar.

These complaints pour in every year after the commencement of the new academic year. These days there is again a public outcry against these private schools for indulging in illegal practice with the arrival of the new (summer) academic session. “Unfortunately, this public outcry will not reach the competent authorities and will die until the next season,” the parent said.

The parents complained that the specific shops where the uniform enjoy monopoly over rate and leave no scope for parents to bargain the price.

“Obviously when the items are available at a specific shop they sell it at a fixed price. They earn huge profit in it and the school gets its share out of it as well,” said Furqan Ahmad, another parent from Srinagar.

The parents said the “uniform business” was a nexus between the shopkeeper and the concerned school and accused the Directorate of the School Education Kashmir (DSEK) of allowing fleecing of parents.

“We have submitted our representation to the DSEK a number of times with the request to control this illegal trade of schools. But the directorate has never taken action against any school,” the parent said. The parent said there is no clarity on who decided the rates of the uniform sets as the DSEK has given a free hand to private schools to resort to illegal profiteering.

“These elite schools do not follow government orders and the irony is that the department never dares to act against the management of these schools for this,” said Imtiyaz Ahmad, another parent who was waiting in line at a shop in Regal Chowk to purchase a uniform for his child. Besides resorting to illegal profiteering in selling uniforms, the schools are also collecting a whopping amount as annual fees from the parents.

The Greater Kashmir received scores of calls from aggrieved parents who complained that the schools are now charging huge amounts as annual fee from parents. Almost every school has fixed the annual charge as Rs 10000 to Rs 15000 which is costly for every parent as compared to the donation which was charged by the school during previous years.

Already reported by this newspaper, the J&K government imposed a ban on capitation fee or donation charged by private schools on admission.

Principal Secretary School Education Department (SED) Bishwajit Kumar Singh when contacted said the matter will be looked into. “I will take up the matter with Director Kashmir. He should be able to resolve these issues,” he told Greater Kashmir.

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