SRINAGAR: Private schools in Kashmir are charging “exorbitant” transport fees, while there has been no action taken by the government’s Fee Fixation Committee (FFC), which is meant to regulate the fee charged by private educational institutions, parents complained.
Given the FFC’s having “no say” in the transport fee structure of the institutions, the private schools, as per the students, are hiking the fees at their own discretion.
Several parents told Kashmir Reader that ‘The Kashmir Valley School’, in uptown Humhama in Srinagar, charged around Rs 2,000 from students, which, as per the parents, is “unjustified”. They said that the school had recently made a hike to the “already exorbitant” transport fee.
The school has even taken an undertaking from the parents that the bus fee it charges at the beginning of each month is “irrespective of the number of days school is able to function for any month”.
“I understand that the bus facility stands for one academic year only and a new revised form will be filled out for my child at the beginning of the new session in case my child needs to avail the facility further,” reads the undertaking. It also says that the school “reserves the right to increase the bus fee at any time of the year”.
Convener of the Parents Association of Privately Administered Schools (PAPAS) Asma Goni said private schools charged transport fee irrespective of the number of working days. “If there is a shutdown for 10 days in a month, they charge the fee for the whole month,” she added.
Goni alleged that several schools did not follow the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India on the safety measures to be adopted by private schools for their buses. She alleged that the schools charged the same transport fee from students irrespective of their school-home distance.
“Basically, there is no rate fixed by the government for the schools,” she said.
A parent whose ward is enrolled at Delhi Public School, Baramulla, alleged that the school had made a hike of “thirty to forty percent” in the transport fee charged from the students.
He said that the FFC had failed to regulate the transport fee charged by private schools in the Valley. “When we approached the school over the fee hike, they said that the Transport Department had given them the approval,” he added.
Chairman FFC Justice (retd) Hakeem Imtiyaz did not respond to repeated calls from Kashmir Reader.