The Business Called ‘EDUCATION’


INR 5360…

That’s the bill for books and stationery of my 5-year-old who will now get into class 1.

Please note that the uniforms are still to be bought. And the fee receipt with the increased annual charges and other charges will be made available in the first week of April.

My 3-year graduation course and 4-year post-graduation course in CS cost only INR 11000 and INR 19000 respectively. In school, we used to share the books amongst our peers. As in the textbooks I used in a certain class were passed onto some other student the next year and so on. Environment-friendly as well as economical.

Nowadays schools ensure that the book list is not provided for purchase from outside the school. The books are all used and signed by the teachers (even the textbooks), so that they cannot be re-used by a student in the next year. It doesn’t stop here. The list of books is changed every year so that nobody gets to buy the books from outside.

Works well for the publishing industry which earns me my bread and butter, but if it pinches my pockets, I’m sure it definitely pinches a lot of others.

This school is still better in the sense that they do not change the uniform every year like some of those that I have heard of.

The compulsion of giving a certain percentage of seats to the EWS (Economically Weaker Students) under the RTE (Right to Education) has brought relief to many I thought. At least I did until recently.

The exams were over and the school sent us a note asking for INR 800 for excursion trips to various places for the kids over a week. The list of places and the admission fees made it sound absolutely genuine amount to charge. And trust me it was genuine.

A few days later another note came where it was mentioned that for one of the trips where the kids will engage in trekking and other such activities, they had to be sent in tracksuits and sports shoes. We went to a nearby sports stuff store. There we met one of Anu’s classmates, who I know is from the EWS category. His mother (a widow) works as a domestic help in houses and sends him to this day boarding school (9 am to 5 pm). The track suit alone was for about INR 600 and the sports shoes started from INR 400. The lady told me if she knew there were expenses beyond the INR 800 that we had already paid, she wouldn’t have given her consent. I felt really bad about it. The school authorities should have informed the entire expenses in the beginning itself. I wanted to help but was not sure if that would hurt her self-esteem. But she did purchase the track suit and the sports shoes. Like every parent, she also didn’t want to hurt her son who was all excited about the trip oblivious to the expenses involved and how his mother managed them.

When I went for the result announcement, I did make a mention of this to the teacher, who for obvious reasons did not give me a satisfactory response.

What are your views about this?

Don’t you feel there needs to be some amendments in the way schools function, especially for the EWS category?

school fees 1 
*Kindly pardon any spelling or grammar mistakes as the post was typed out this morning on my phone during my travel in the Metro.

14 Replies to “The Business Called ‘EDUCATION’”

  1. Education comes at a cost. But, sad it has become business where some schools have forgotten bout the essence of educating for life, thinking of parents as milch cow to extract money like that. My heart goes to parents who have limited means and have to fork out a bomb like that.

  2. While schools do offer seats to students who are EWS, I am not sure if the families of these students are aware of the extent of expenses that come unplanned or unspecified. Even if a rough estimate of such are told of, I am not sure how many families would want to pursue it.

    When I was in Engg, it would cost around 4oK per year.. Now the cost has close to doubled, more in some other institutes. However some schoools are quite as expensive if not more.

  3. Perhaps, the schools should be made to meet all expenses of EWS students, including for any optional activity. This may result in the other students having to pay a bit more, but it would avoid the strain on the parents of EWS students.

    “I wanted to help but was not sure if that would hurt her self-esteem.” – very thoughtful of you.

  4. EWS students have to bear the same costs as others? This is news. And very bad news, including the kind of expenditure you speak about for non-EWS students too. As you know, my Life will change this coming April too. 😀
    Scary, and very sad!

  5. Education has become mere business these days. And there is absolutely no logic why we should have the stationery and the books from the school itself. Even we reused textbooks, and we exchanged refreshers and whatever was possible, which actually lessened the burden and increased the camaraderie. And pen, pencils, does it matter where you get them from, as long as they are used well and properly ? And that story about EWS students, what’s the point in giving them the so-called status if they have to spend money just like the others….!
    Hope the PTA does something about these malpractices.

  6. Ever since I started following school fees and related expenditure about a year ago, I have been so infuriated and frustrated with the situation and more so at the helplessness that I face given that I have no choice but to succumb to the whims and fancies of the Educational Trusts that run these institutions nowadays.
    From what I can see, none of these schools are engaged in the noble activity of educating future citizens of the country but are running purely commercial enterprises. And what is funny is that even as corporates they don’t even have the basic KRA of ensuring that a good ‘education’ (by whatever definition) is promised to the students.
    Blindly following the ‘rote’ system of learning, teaching kids to conform to strict rules, these are the only things they seem to be ‘teaching’ kids nowadays. Sad situation to be in, but we don’t have a choice, do we?

  7. Sad and disturbing to read about this. It definitely puts added pressure on EWS kids families. I cannot help but admire the lady who didn’t want to let her son be sad or miss out. Kids can’t understand or appreciate the sacrifices parents make for them…
    Thanks for sharing this.

  8. education is definitely becoming expensive and since private institutions have become the back bone of education in India, this is not a surprise. Plus, the increase in the cost of education donot imply qualified better paid teachers, from what I know most of the schools have inexperienced fresh out of college teachers who are paid peanuts for salary

  9. The cost has been growing rapidly for the last few years. I notice the society and the way schools function has changed completely in the last five years. Even in small towns. You either have to be rich or send your children in government schools, which are not so esteemed as compared to privately-run schools.
    Very sad situation, indeed.

  10. Ahhhh… I am sorry to be a contrarian’s voice, it was becoming a long and boring comment and not to offend anyone , I have put the detailed post here which I wrote as very long a comment , you may delete even this one if is not in line with your views.
    I am totally against this Right culture and I think it is now going beyond ridiculous.
    Right to Education is a farce, and so are the other such Rights. Sooner or later people will understand this, the problem is by that time we all will start accepting it as business as usual. The job of a government is to uphold its constitutional duties and not indulge in this politics of providing dole outs. Cross subsidization will not work at all, it will create gigantic problems for the future. Take the current situation you described as an example, kids going on an excursion, every parent have a fair choice to allow their kids to participate or not. School administration will of course charge it from the parents, from where else will the get the money to organize the trip, they will also have to make some broad dress rule as well for trekking and other such activities. Yes it is an extra expenditure, for all the family, specially so for the students from economically poor background, so what the solution? a) school should not organize such events b) parents of kids who can afford should cross subsidize for those who can not c) School/ Govt. should pay for those who can not afford – okay the option c is indirectly same as option b because school/. govt. will also have to get this money as extra fees or taxes only. All these scenarios will have severe implications – and there would be a number of people who would be totally against each one of these scenarios. Even non-participation by those students who can not afford is only going to create bigger divides among the students, scarring the kids from a very young age. This has already started to happen, as you have noticed, and you will see the bigger fall out of this Right to Education in the coming years when these kids from two extreme economic situation reach their teens – mark these words and wait for those ugly times ahead.
    Social upliftment will not come by forcing the kids from varying economical background to sit together in a class. It will come when the school run by govt. are brought to the level of private school, or made even better. That will happen when all the teachers in govt. school take their job of molding the future of this nation seriously – not just focusing milking the government for salary+perks and the students for extra tuition outside the school, when basic amenities are provided in these schools, when the administration of these school also plans excursion and trips for the students, not just for themselves and their own families. We have a neighbor who is supposed to teaches music in govt. school for girls, she has absolutely no interest in music at all, brings bag full of snacks home after every govt. function where such things are provided for the kids and then serves it to her guests, She takes weeks of holidays and then gives medical certificates from doctors/ hospitals and charges the medical bill to the government. She would not survive even a day in a private school with the same kind of attitude and work ethics, but she had been able to spent a life time working in almost similar government schools at the similar position without making any kind of changes personally.
    And the irony is that knowing fully about what is ailing these government schools, the government, rather than pushing these school up to the standard of private schools, is hell bent on pulling the private schools down to the level of these govt. schools. Nothing is done to motivate the govt. teachers to perform well, in fact forcing the private schools to even accommodate the children from economically weaker sections of society which primarily is the core group for govt. school is a way of telling these govt. school that you are worthless and we can not count on you to provide good education, and therefore we are making arrangement for few lucky student to go to private schools for better education. .
    You did the right thing by not offering her the money. Its just few bucks for you, but you’d have crippled her and her son for life, by making them dependent on the hand outs.
    We will go no where with this culture of hand outs/ dole outs/. rights. Things will keep getting expensive all the time, the resources on this planet earth are limited, the population is growing at a very fast pace, things will keep getting scarce and limited to only those who would be able to afford. Its the natural law of nature – fittest survival. Is it immoral? Tell me how? Lets talk about practical solution not utopias…
    Warm Regards,

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