The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parents on fee-hike protest path

Guardians of nearly 15 major schools in the city formed a forum on Saturday and launched a movement against the “unjustified decision” of the school authorities to raise tuition fees.

In the first of such agitational programmes, the United Guardians Forum of Anglo-Indian Schools, the new outfit, has decided to stage a demonstration at Calcutta Boys School on Tuesday. A forum spokesperson said more such programmes will be organised in future.

“We are left with no alternative but to protest. There should be some uniformity in the fee hike. While some schools have hiked their fees to the tune of Rs 200, others have increased it by Rs 500,” said Montu Pal, an office-bearer.

Pal added that the forum would also hold gate meetings and rallies against the hike.

The move to initiate a joint movement comes after 67 Anglo-Indian schools in the city, Howrah and the fringe areas, increased their fees following a government slash in dearness allowance (DA) of teachers.

“It is true that DA has been slashed by the government for which the schools are responsible. Most of them have not been able to maintain transparency about their profits,” Pal alleged.

Reacting to the protest call, the principal of Assembly of God Church School, L.W. Hartnett, told The Telegraph that the guardians are being “misguided and would not be moving in the right direction if they went ahead with the agitation”.

“I feel bad for the guardians but it is the government that should take the blame, not the schools. We had met the government officials several times in the past, but nothing has worked out,” said Hartnett.

Pal alleged that all schools have been asked to show their balance sheets for the past financial year and also make public the exact financial “crisis” that they claim to be facing.

“All of them have refused to do so. We are convinced that the schools are actually making huge profits,” the convenor said.

Several guardians present at the meeting organised by the forum on Saturday evening said they were concerned with the “mental pressure” inflicted upon students by some schools, which wanted them to persuade their parents to abandon plans for the agitation.

“Last Thursday, a school in central Calcutta forced the students of Classes XI and XII to raise objections to a private television crew interviewing some of them on the fee hike. The authorities have no right to do so,” said Pal.

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