TN govt must step in to streamline CBSE schools: Educationists

By Santhosh Mathevan Published on Jul 26, 2018 01:34 PM IST

The week-long protests happening after the demand of caution deposit by SSM Group of Institutions in the city has thrown light on the ambiguities prevailing in the mechanism of monitoring CBSE schools in the State.

Without an inspecting body to streamline the fee collection of Central board institutions, educationists claim such events will continue to happen.

THE CIRCULAR

Last week, the SSM Group management had sent a circular to all the parents regarding the hike in the caution deposit to Rs 2 lakh from Rs 20,000 that they had already paid.

According to the notification, parents who paid Rs 20,000 caution deposit in previous years will have to deposit Rs 1,80,000 more.

The circular also read, 'Those parents who are not willing to or cannot pay the enhanced Caution Deposit as stated above can take a final decision before 31.07.2018 and communicate the same through the acknowledgement slip enclosed.'

REACTION

With 12 days left for the parents take a call, the management insisted that students who cannot pay the hiked deposit leave the school.

'Those who commit to leaving the school at the end of the year, the TC (Transfer Certificate) will be issued at the end of this academic year. This information is a must for the management to plan for running the school for the next 10 years and also for making the necessary arrangements for the academic year 2019-20,' the circular read.

One of the parents told reporters, “This is the height of absurdity. Most of us are middle-class families. Giving just 12 days time to pay Rs 1,80,000 is totally impossible for us.”

Following this, a section of parents started to protest against the school management in both its branches at Chrompet and Perungalattur 20 July.

A complaint was lodged at Peerkankaranai police station that he had abused the parents on the public address system leading to the arrest of school correspondent Santhanam yesterday.

As soon as Santhanam was arrested, the school management sent circulars to the parents that both their schools would be indefinitely closed.

This triggered a section of parents, who converged in front of Peerkankaranai police station, to protest favouring the release of Santhanam. They were eventually dispersed.

Most of the parents were not ready to give up their child's education by having an indefinite closure of the school.

The placards read, 'We trust on Santhanam Sir', 'We Support Santhanam Sir', and many more in favour of the school correspondent.

EDUCATIONISTS POINT OF VIEW

The series of events and high drama have awakened educationists in town, who demand clarity on the matter.

Renowned education activist Prince Gajendra Babu told ‘News Today’, “It is the responsibility of the State to look into this immediately. When there are sufficient provisions in the Constitution to keep a check on this, it is surprising that the government is not ready to react to this.”

Similar allegations against a lot of CBSE schools are being made. A parent of a class five girl from a CBSE school near Valluvar Kottam said, “Our school has been demanding capitation fee in various forms. The caution deposit which is supposed to be returned to the parents when the child leaves the school will not be returned. Instead, they take this deposit as capitation fee.” The mother also told that the school would not provide any receipt for it.

When this allegation was brought to the notice of Prince, he said, “Collection of capitation fee is totally banned in the country. Due to this, school managements are just changing the terminologies like caution deposit, special fees, founder's day fees, etc.”

Prince further pointed to Section 9(1) of the TN Schools Act 2009. 'According to this act, any form of extra fees is strictly prohibited. And that is why schools are not providing receipt.'

When asked why action was not taken on these allegations and complaints, he said, “The Act in many cases will not suit CBSE schools. But, at the same time, it also mentions that if a CBSE school is found to be collecting excess fees, it can be probed.”

K Muthukumar, another academician from the city, said, “It is the weakness and insecurity of middle-class parents that become the strength of the school management.”

He pointed to the second protest supporting the management, and said, “This is an open evidence to that. These many parents arraying up to support a school management that demands a huge sum is all because they fear that the future of their kids would be ruined if they opposed the school.”

STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT IS AUTHORITY

With such excess fee complaints being a perennial issue, educationist Prince Gajendra Babu said it is the right time for the State government to act.

It is the State government that is the primary governing body of CBSE schools, which is a lesser known fact. 'The District Education Officer is the first person to inspect a CBSE school and provide an NOC to run it.'

So, Prince says the School Education Department has to step in. 'A complaint box has to be placed at all DEOs. Any kind of complaints against the school raised by parents or students has to be posted online on the department website after checking the genuineness of the complaint. Following this, stringent action has to be taken.'

When asked that most State School Education Department officials say that CBSE schools would not come under their jurisdiction, Prince claimed that the officials are also not ready to earn the enmity of the management of schools that are run by people who are politically influential and economically well-off.

POSSIBLE ACTIONS IN SUCH INCIDENTS

The management has to be changed immediately.

Like Annamalai University, the school has to be taken over by the State.

The excess fees already collected has to be returned.

A governing body has to be set up.

Parents should understand RTE provisions.