School Fee Hike

School fee hike: Principals worried over commission’s approach

Jhinuk Mazumdar
Jhinuk Mazumdar
Posted on 09 Aug 2023
08:27 AM
Representational image

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The school heads are worried over the parameters the commission might choose to categorise institutions

Many private schools have expressed concern over how the proposed commission will arrive at what should be the right fees to be charged by them.

The school heads are worried over the parameters the commission might choose to categorise institutions and whether the fees the panel would fix would be commensurate with the facilities a campus offers or the legacy it carries.

Many of the school heads were reluctant to speak on record on Tuesday because the bill that proposes to set up the commission is yet to be tabled in the Assembly.


The state cabinet on Monday approved the West Bengal Private Schools Regulatory Bill, 2022, which seeks to set up a commission that would determine the fees to be charged by private schools and hear complaints against them.

“A school that caters to 30 children in a class cannot be compared to one that has 50,” said the head of a private school.

Will the fees be decided based on just the infrastructure such as air-conditioned classrooms or will the opportunities, be it in sports or academics, that the students get around the year be a determining factor, asked a senior official at a school in central Calcutta.

“There are questions about whether the commission will consider the quality of education, teachers and facilities when regulating the fees,” said Brigadier (retd) V.N. Chaturvedi, secretary-general of Vidya Mandir Society, which runs Birla High School, Sushila Birla Girls’ School and Birla High School Mukundapur.

He said a private school is also assessed on the basis of the “end-product” it creates.

“The quality of a school is evaluated by the quality of students who graduate after Class X or XII and how well placed they are after school,” he said.

There are schools whose teachers are “sought after across the country as resource persons”, said the head of another school. “Will the commission give weightage to that?”

A basketball court could be a parameter, said one principal. “But another school may have an air-conditioned court and a third a vacant area with two hoops. How do you differentiate?”

Janet Gasper Chowdhury, president of St Augustine’s Education Society, which runs four schools, said: “The policy guidelines have to be well tested. Uniform parameters might not work.”

Officials of several schools said the parameters should include the age of a school and its performance over the years.

“We provide exposure to our students and growth opportunities. We don’t need AC playing areas because we want our children to play in the field,” said an official of an ICSE school with a sprawling playground.

Terence Ireland, principal of St James’ School, which is run by the Church of North India, is still not sure whether institutions like his will come within the ambit of the commission.

Speaking about his school, Ireland said: “In the past 150 years, the school has evolved and has been able to attract more and better students who can pay higher fees.

“There are schools like us who have to raise fees sufficiently to conduct those activities because we run our schools on the money generated by the fees.”

Many schools havecome up in the city in the past 20 years and they surpass many institutions withrich legacy in terms of facilities.

“If a school provides robotics labs or individual computers to each student in the labs and an air-conditioned infrastructure, naturally its everyday cost would be much higher,” said Amita Prasad, director, Indus Valley World School.

Last updated on 09 Aug 2023
09:04 AM
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