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Parents Protest Loot by Himachal’s Private Schools, Education Minister Advises Sending Children to Govt Schools

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Loot by Private Schools in Himachal Pradesh 2

Shimla- Levying of hefty fee by private schools in Himachal Pradesh continues despite instructions by the Supreme Court, State High Court and MHRD Ministry. The assurances of the State Government to regulate private schools has also proved insignificant. Parents allege that after court orders to remove the building fund and the admission fee, the schools have only changed the methods of fleecing them with exorbitant fees.

Now, their free booklets have removed the colums of building fund and admission fee and replaced them with annual charges, tuition fee, smart-classroom charges, SMS service charges etc. They have not only adjusted the previously charged funds under new columns but also hiked the total charges, parents alleged.     

Distressed parents have organized under the banner of Parent-Student forum and are again out on the roads to protest against private schools and incapability of the government to take appropriate action. They are asking the government to regulate private schools and make them accountable and responsible. Three main demands of the parents include regulation of fee structure, syllabus, and admission process.

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On March 11, 2019, parents gathered outside the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, to hold a protest. On March 13, the forum staged another protest outside the Directorate of Higher Education. The protests are likely to continue until the government addresses the issue, suggested the convenor of the forum, Vijender Mehra.

Parents complained that schools did not consult them before implementing fee hikes for the current session. They also alleged that schools flaunted all regulations while doing so. After extracting hefty fees, some schools were charging an additional Rs. 35-40 in the name of tours, parents alleged. If that was not enough to burden the parents, the schools charge money for their events too, the convenor of the forum said.

My son was in the second class last year, and I paid about 50,000 to the school as various fees. This year, I will have to pay more,

a father told Himachal Watcher on the condition of anonymity.    

Schools have imposed compulsions on parents regarding purchase of books and uniforms. Parents are strictly ordered to buy them from shops selected by schools, where books and uniforms are sold at thrice or four times the normal cost, the convenor said.

Vendors selected by schools set stalls inside the campus and parents must buy books from these vendors. It’s a strict instruction given by the school. These vendors sell books at a higher price as parents are rendered helpless by the school,

said another parent on the condition of not mentioning the name of the school.

Schools tie up with these vendors and fetch fat commissions from them every year on the sale of stationary and uniforms, the parents allege.

If the number of students enrolled in these schools is considered, then they are earning almost over Rs.6 crores per year. Including the commissions from books and uniforms, this amount increases to almost Rs. 7 crore. Their expenditure including salaries of teachers doesn’t exceed Rs. 3 crores. Rest of the amount is their surplus,

the convenor of the forum said.

Himachal Watcher talked to some parents of children enrolled in various private schools in Shimla. It turned out that Rs. 30,000 – 50,000 per annum is a common amount for the majority of schools. For reputed ones, this cost reaches upto Rs. 60, 000.

I have two sons enrolled a reputed private school in Shimla. Elder one is in class II and younger one is in LKG. Last year, I paid about Rs. 90,000 as their fee,

a mother – resident of Summerhill- told HW.  

The schools justify annual hike and hefty charges saying that they are fully self-funded. To hike salaries of teachers, the fees are also hiked every year, non-funded private schools argue.

According to Right to Education (RTE), all private schools are supposed to reserve 25 percent of the seats for children hailing from economically weaker sections. In 2014, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had also issued fresh guidelines to private schools. The parents alleged that schools are not following these rules. The government, they alleged, is behaving like a mute spectator.

It is seen that MLAs, bureaucrats, leaders of the ruling, as well as the opposition, enroll their children in reputed private institutes because they don’t believe in the quality of education and facilities provided in government institutes. While middle class parents also dodge the government institutions because they have begun to find consolation in the fact that their children are at least receiving the best possible education they can afford to secure their future, which government schools cannot provide.

I won’t send my children to government schools because I want them to explore their full potential and develop their personalities. I want them to develop enough self-confidence and communication skills to face the modern, tough competitive world. Currently, government schools are just not able to offer much to children,

said a father of two and resident of New Shimla.

What Does Education Minister Says?

The Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, in response to these protest, told media that he is well aware of this loot. His advice to parents was to send their children to Government schools. As per the Minister, the Government schools are tip-top and quality of education is at par with private schools.

Since assuming the office, the Education Minister was reluctant to accept that a decline in enrollments in government schools is a result of the degrading quality of education. As per his statement in February 2019, parents send their children to private schools for it has become a status symbol. He also claimed that introducing pre-nursery classes in about 390 government schools have resulted in the additional enrollment of 40,000.  He also claimed that 99.7 percent of government schools have toilet facility and that 18 percent of the budget is being spent on education.    

It’s pertinent to mention that the HP Private Education Institutions (Regulation) Act does exist, but its hardly playing any role in regulating schools.

The school aren’t even following the instruction given by the Directorate of Higher Education to submit records of their annual charges for the session 2018-2019.

Other states have developed their own regulatory mechanism to deal with loot by private schools. For example, the State of Gujarat has the Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act. It makes State Government competent of forming laws for state boards, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). 

However, it appears that the Government in Himachal is trying to delay forming and implementing any such regulatory law.

Parents also question the government’s disinterest in the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

Moreover, irrespective of political parties in power, private schools are hardly audited.

In January 2018, right after coming into power, the Education Minister had assured the people that a policy would be introduced to check arbitrary fee structures of private schools in the State. The laws formed by other states to prevent private schools from exploiting parents financially would be studied, he had said. He had also said that very soon these schools would be brought under the Regulatory Commission.   

In March 2019, the Education Minister has again given an assurance that the Government would make provisions to regulate private schools.  The Government did not mention any deadline or estimated time it would take to frame laws and implement them. Meanwhile, schools have already begun extorting this year’s fees.

The parents also said that they would be meeting the Education Minister during the current week with their plea. The parents have warned the government of more such protests if no action was taken to tighten the noose around these schools.

What Does Law Say?

Operation of private schools and commercialisation of education has long been a matter of litigation across the country. The Supreme Court in December 2018 had ordered a 20 per cent decrease in fees charged by upscale private schools. The schools were ordered to return half the fees they had charged for summer vacations. This order was applicable across the country whose fees were in excess of Rs 5, 000.

The apex court had also ordered that private schools can only increase their fee by five percent each year.

Before it, cases like Islamic Academy of Education versus State of Karnataka (2003) and Modern School versus Union of India (2004) have clearly stated that educational institutions should be allowed to make only ‘reasonable surplus’. The schools were expected to use this profit to provide better facilities and not for profiteering by the school management.

Apparently, the welfare of society lies in putting a check on the commercialisation of education. Good education lies at the foundation of a strong, healthy democracy. At least, education must not be put on sale.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Nauni Varsity UG Admission Process Revised, No Entrance Exam, Seats to be Allotted on 10+2 Merit

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Solan-uhf nauni ug admissions 2020-21 session

Solan-Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni has revised the admission process for its undergraduate programmes for the academic session 2020-21 in view of the COVID 19 pandemic. This year, the university will not be conducting an entrance test to fill the normal seats of UG programmes. The decision in this regard was taken during a special meeting of the Academic Council meeting held recently.

The basis of admission for normal seats would be merit drawn on basis of marks obtained at 10+2 level examination in four subjects-English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology/ Mathematics plus weightage of participation in sports/ NCC, NSS, scouting, co-curricular activities (if any). The university offers three undergraduate programmes B Sc (Hons) Horticulture, B Sc (Hons) Forestry while B Tech Biotechnology is offered only at the COH&F Neri. 

The candidates have been advised to download the counselling proforma from the university website and fill it as per the instructions mentioned on it. Those students who want to be considered for both normal as well as self-financing seats need to fill two separate proformas. A single page pdf file must be created, containing scanned filled counselling proforma along with legible documents mentioned in the checklist as provided in the counselling proforma. No column must be left blank. The counselling proforma for normal seats and self-financing seats will be uploaded on the university website on 3rd August (afternoon) and 5th August (afternoon) respectively.

For normal seats: The scanned pdf file must be sent through email to [email protected] on or before 18th August, 2020.

For self-financing seats: The scanned pdf file must be sent by email to [email protected] on or before 20th August, 2020. Every candidate must submit the duly filled counselling proforma in order to be considered for the admission. The detailed notification can be downloaded from the university website.

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HPBOSE Syllabus to be Reduced by 30% for 2020-21 Session Following CBSE’s Lead

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HPBose Syllabus 2020-21

Dharamshala: The syllabus of Himachal Pradesh School of Board Education from 9th to 12th classes would be reduced by 30 percent following the lead of CBSE.  The Board today constituted a five-member committee for this purpose, informed Chairman of HPBOSE, Dr Suresh Kumar Soni. The step is being taken considering the disruption to regular classroom study of students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The committee comprises of Deputy Secretaries Anjali Saini and Sudarshan Kumar, and Anil Naag – the principal, Senior secondary School, Sulah, Kangra district-and Vijay Sharam- the principal, GSSS Daroh, Kangra. The fifth member would be Dimple Kanwar.

The Board also held a workshop in which experts in Hindi, Political Science, History, Geography, and Psychology subjects gave their opinion regarding the syllabus.

Further, the Chairman said that emphasis would be laid on reducing the syllabus for the board classes. Exclusion of topics from syllabus would be done in accordance with suggestions received from subject experts, he said.

The teachers should keep in mind that the students do not remain deprived of knowledge but at the same time keep the stress of syllabus off them, he said. He asked the teachers to not include any questions in exams from the topics which would be excluded from the syllabus. A proposal regarding it would be submitted to the state government for its approval, he informed.

Earlier this month, CBSE had announced a reduction in its syllabus for students of class 9 to 12. For class 11, CBSE had excluded chapters on federalism in the Constitution, political theory sections on citizenship, secularism and nationalism. For class 12, India’s relations with its neighbours, sections on social movement, regional aspirations, the changing nature of India’s economic development, and the Planning Commission were excluded.

For class 10, CBSE had excluded the chapter on forest and wildlife in contemporary India from social science. Besides it, chapters on democracy and diversity; gender religion and caste, popular struggles and movements, and challenges to democracy have also be removed. For science classes, the students would not have to study the human eye functioning, a section on concepts of evolution, several practical experiments, like tests on acetic acid, mounting a leaf peel, and studying the comparative cleaning capacity of soap in hard and soft, water were also removed from the syllabus.

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HP University Issues UG Date-Sheet, Exams to be Held from Aug 17- Sept 8

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HP University UG Exams Date Sheet

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh University has finally issued tentative date-sheets for the Under-Graduate examinations for the current session. The exams will start on August 17 and end on September 8. These are tentative dates and instructions with date-sheets said that dates may vary according to the situation but the pattern of the date-sheet will remain the same.

The date sheets are available on the official website of the varsity.

The Controller of Examination, JC Negi, informed that students can obtain their admit cards from the official website of the varsity. Exams would be held in two session – morning and evening.

It’s pertinent to mention that according to the University Grant Commission (UGC) guidelines, it was mandatory to hold examinations for the last semester of UG classes. The Commission had given an option to conduct these exams online, but the HP varsity isn’t prepared for it at all. Therefore, the students would have to appear at examination centres physically.

A section of students has been protesting against the UGC guidelines to hold exams amid a pandemic and at a time when the state is witnessing a sharp increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The Student Federation of India had even staged a protest outside the Directorate of Higher Education, HP, a week ago.

The students said it would not be wise to conduct exams when the state is witnessing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. The Federation demanded that the UGC should instead promote the students of final year/semester too. They said their marks should be calculated based on the performance in all previous exams and assessments.

SFI argued that the varsity was already late in conducting examinations and it has no infrastructure to conduct online exams. Further, it argued that not all students in the State are well connected to the Internet and would not be able to take online exams.

However, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is supporting the UGC and Government’s decision to conduct examinations.

Following instructions (unedited) were issued with the date-sheets:

  1. In view of the COVID – 19 pandemic the Principal and students are directed to keep updated for any changes in the date-sheets, if any, uploaded on the University website from time to time
  2. All the Principals are requested to hold the examinations strictly adhering to the guidelines and Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education vide its Memorandum dated 6th July 2020 for the conduct of examinations adopted by the Government of Himachal Pradesh vide letter No. EDN-B-B (14) – 12/2018 dated 13th July 2020 and further adopted by the Himachal Pradesh University vide Notification No. 16-18/79-HPU (Genl) dated 16th July 2020 which has been uploaded on the University website. 3.
  3. It has been decided to allow the candidate who may be stranded in their native place to appear in the examinations in nearby colleges. As such the Principals are requested to allow such candidates to take the examination in their colleges and intimate the University.
  4. All the Principals/Directors are requested to go through the date sheet and the same may be brought to the notice of the students. Objections if any regarding clash in papers in the same date and time, if any, may immediately be brought to the notice of the University through e-mail conduct.hpu {at}gmail.com. No objections shall be entertained after 30th July 2020.
  5. All the Principal(s) of the colleges concerned are requested to ensure that keeping in view the COVID – 19 pandemic the sufficient seating capacity to adjust the students is available on particular day in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and State Government from time to time. In case, the seating capacity is exceeding to their strength on a particular day, the same may be intimated to the University immediately before the commencement of the examinations.
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