Ahead of the upcoming academic session, the J&K government’s Fee Fixation Committee (FFC) has allowed private schools to charge fees under at least 4 additional heads apart from tuition fee, and to hike fees by up to 6 percent annually.
The nod, according to the FFC was given after consolidating all earlier orders as well as incorporating concerns and suggestions of various parent bodies and school associations for fixation and regulating of fee in private schools. On the face of it the six percent hike does not seem much and there would obviously a methodology that would have been employed to arrive at this assessment. But, cumulatively and under the conditions that obtain in Kashmir, the hike is uncalled for. Yes, there is inflation and other allied economic issues, but these cannot be the sole criteria for making fee hikes. As it is, private schooling is essentially a business where owners of these schools make reasonable money. If this were not the case, then there would not have been a mushrooming of private schools across the length and breadth of the valley. People prefer to send their wards and children to private schools for a couple of salient reasons. One is that the demand for education has grown exponentially over the years. People rightly view education as the avenue for social and economic mobility. This demand has outstripped supply that , in any case is shoddy and poor. A look at the government schools is enough to validate and confirm this point. The obvious way out of this condition is recourse to private schools. But, not all are able to afford the fees and other forms of money making practices taken recourse to by most private schools. This puts people from vulnerable sections of society and their children at a severe disadvantage. Education, in the final analysis, is in the nature of a right. Inability to afford it amounts to a breach of this right which , not only deprives the needy and the poor from education but also affects their life chances negatively. It is then in the nature of an imperative to make and render education affordable. The first step toward this would be put a ceiling on fees and make fee hikes reasonable so that no child stands deprived. Let sobriety and proportion define education and schooling and let a thousand flowers bloom!