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Fee hike drama continues

Monday, March 20, 2017
By Aishwarya R. Iyer

This time in Vibgyor Malad branch

After the series of fee hikes in various private schools in the city, now it is the turn of Vibgyor High, Malad east. The parents are complaining about the massive fee hike in the school since the last six years. The matter came to light when the parents, one by one, started approaching the school management regarding this but they 'ignored' the matter. That's when they (parents) realised that something has to be done. Reportedly, the school faculty has been hiding from the parents since the first week of February and that's when they announced the enrollment of fees form in the notice board of the school.

Parents Speak
Getting to the crux of thematter, Afternoon D&C got in touch with some of the parents of the school. On the condition of anonymity, these parents shared their experiences over the years.One of the parent, whose child is in class 4, said, "Whenmy kidmoves fromclass 4 to 5, it's obvious that there has to be a fee hike as he is moving from primary to secondary section. However, if such is the case, they should have at least informed us prior to the hike." Technically, when an academic year gets over, for the next year's admission, the school is supposed to give a fee structure, subject lists and other important details. However allegedly, this school doesn't follow these norms. She continued, "This school's enrollment procedure is done online. Hence,when they said the procedure is started, we thought as they have not specified about the fees hike, it must be the same. Hence, we went ahead and filled the form. Later, when the fee day came,we got to knowon the same day, that it has been hiked by 30% (for the class 5)."

It is not just the case of class 5. All the batches are going through the same format but the only difference is that each class has a different fee hike percent. Another parent, whose child is in class 6, went through the same trouble. This parent said, "Since last six years my child is in this school. So we had trust with this school so every year when they do this hike, we trust their words and paid the fees. However, this year they crossed all the lines by hiking the fees by 30-40 percent directly." When this school increased their fees in the past years, they promised better infrastructure and productivity in return. However, that turned out to be false promise because according to the parents, they school doesn't even have a proper playground, classes and elevator for the students.

No Principal?
Another problem circling within this school is that this school doesn't have a Principal. One of the parent told Afternoon D&C that this school don't have a fixed Principal since last one and a half year. To confirm this matter, we contacted Ashish Tibdewal, CEO of Vibgyor. Tibdewal, explaining the no-principal-matter, said, "The earlier Principal left the school in early June. So we appointed a new Principal but because we were not sure about it, we made him the acting Principal. However after four months, his performance was not up to the mark so we changed him. The same thing happened with the next appointed Principal but this time he left within some months because of some personal reasons. This led to the school to appointing the Vice-Principal as the acting-Principal for a temporary period."

Parents even alleged that the teaching quality has deteriorated since the earlier Principal left. However, Tibdewal rubbishes these allegations saying that the parents are exaggerating the facts.

The School’s Side!
Tibdewal explains the school's side by accepting that they hike their fees every year, like every other private school in the country. However, he disagrees with some of the things what the parents allege. He said, "We have been increasing the fees since last few years. And we are going to continue doing that as it is not for us, the money will only benefit the students. We are here, with all these money, building a better infrastructure and provide excellent education for the students. However, these hikes happen only in single digit percent i.e., last year it was 10 per cent, so this year we increased the fees by 9 per cent. We actually decreased it this year." He justified the fee hike by stating that every other private school goes by the same procedure.

What The Law Says?
According to High court order, private schools are only allowed to hike their fees once in two years and that too by 15 per cent. However, many schools, especially private ones, go against the law and increase their fees every year in the name of miscellaneous expenses and other fees. Many parents, believing the school, go on depositing the 'hiked' amount, ignorant about the rules and regulations.

In the year 2010, a similar incident allegedly took place in one of the branches of Vibgyor. At that time, the school suddenly increased the fees and the case ended up before the court. But after the school sought time to submit documents to the deputy director of education, it moved the matter before justice. The bench passed a status quo order. The parent who raised his voice in this matter, allegedly later faced many troubles from the school, who victimised him. Reportedly, that parent's daughter, who was appearing for her class 10 board was expelled from the school for going against the school. Hence, now, parents are afraid to give their names in public fearing about the future of their children.

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