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Parents are more demanding now, say schools in Kolkata

Change triggered by online classes, commodification of education also to blame, say principals

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 04.01.23, 06:52 AM
Representational file image

Representational file image

Several parents across schools are increasingly becoming more demanding and a section of them tries to find “value for money” in everything that the school does, said principals of several schools. The fees “that we pay” is a common refrain for parents in many schools.

Some parents have said that they have done “a favour to the school by paying the fees even during the pandemic”, one principal said.


Parents, during conversations with teachers, are increasingly becoming more aggressive and lacking in respect, a senior school teacher with several decades of experience said.

Parents are more inclined to finding fault with teachers and the system than trying to recognise their or the child’s fault, the teacher said.

A parent of a Class IX boy told a teacher they were “not paying fees for a question paper that has mistakes”.

Another parent of a Class X student called up the principal of the child’s school at 10.30pm to ask why they were “selling forms” for Class XI.

“Parents expect better returns. This means that for two years, because the school did not function as usual, they assumed there were no costs. The parents do not take into account the 20 per cent discount that schools had to give. Now that they have to pay the full fees, they are expecting the school to go a step forward. They want better services,” said Terence Ireland, principal of St James’ School.

Parents’ scrutiny has increased manifold and schools allege they are at times “irrational” and “petty”.

Since they were part of the classroom for two years of online teaching during the pandemic, parents now want to be more involved without realising that it amounts to interference.

Many parents now want their children in the forefront of all school activities.

They are now demanding answers to questions such as why their child has been relegated to the back of the stage for a concert, why there is so much focus on sports or why the timetable has been set in a particular way.

There have also been complaints about why a child’s performance is dipping compared to the past two years.

More than one school head said parents were reluctant to consider that their children may have used unfair means while writing exams from home during the pandemic.

The pressure to answer parents’ questions is more for newer schools.

“They have expectations from the school, which have to be fulfilled. Everything is looked at from the point of value for money,” said John Bagul, principal, South City International School.

Sometimes, parents are allegedly brazen and disrespectful. “Respect for teachers and education is eroding. It is an appeal to parents to understand the struggles that a teacher has to go through,” said Rodney Borneo, principal, St Augustine’s Day School, Shyamnagar.

But while parents have become demanding, schools also have brought this upon themselves because of the “commodification of education”, said a veteran school principal.

Hilda Peacock, who is now mentoring several schools in the city and outside, said the attitude of parents was that since they had paid, the school and teachers had to deliver.

“They don’t want their children to be strong in character but they want good marks. The way schools advertise (on billboards), with words like ‘globalisation’ and ‘international’ along with the marks of students, is also to blame for where we are. Naturally, parents understand that they are paying for a product,” said Peacock.

Last updated on 04.01.23, 06:52 AM

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