If it is said, corruption begins with school – would it be absurd? Well, not exactly. With the increasing demands for funds in schools under various unaccounted heads, it has got parents worried about the future of their children. We have seen and heard of parents saving up for their child’s higher education (which is expensive of course!) or marriage. But these days parents might as well start saving for their little child’s admission in school. It is evident that quality education is not cheap anymore.
We had seen this concept of donations or management quota during admissions in graduation colleges. But schools no longer lag behind. During admissions, schools these days expect to be paid huge amount of money right while purchasing their forms. These schools include a lot of private as well as public institutions and some very renowned too. Schools charge this unethical amount of money under various heads like ‘Construction revenues’, ‘smart classrooms’, ‘orientation charges’ or ‘PTA fund’. They expect to be paid in cash and without giving a receipt. The extra amount charged depends on how ‘posh’ the school is.
With the increasing competition, even these public interest institutions feel the need to rise and show off their facilities. Earlier, what really mattered was whether a school had well-trained teachers, a healthy teacher-pupil ratio and an engaging curriculum that encouraged children to develop their analytical skills. But sadly, these days parents give into fancy facilities like infrastructure, establishments for other extra-curricular activities like swimming pools, horse-riding etc., smart classrooms and likewise. So this is what has become an USP for schools.
So, the schools have their own way of excluding parents who are unwilling or unable to pay donations. Getting admission in a school has come down to three things basically – talent, money and contacts. Many government ministries and state-owned companies reserve seats for children of their employees through large donations to schools. The more people you know, especially the government officials, the less you have to pay. The schools have basically become educational shops rather than non-profitable organizations.
Strong willed parents, who always teach “success comes through hard work”, are forced to question their principles when their children enter the anxiety-filled process of admissions. Some parents shower the administrators and even the teachers with exclusive gifts, favors and money to get their way in or purchase some special attention towards their ward. This just widens the gap between the rich and the poor and worsens the inequalities in financing. The parents are unable to refuse when they see everyone else playing the same game.
The Right to Education Act prohibits the practice of schools accepting donations. Also, earlier this year, The Directorate of Education had issued an order, according to which a school is liable to pay a fine in case they are found accepting donation that may extend to 10 times of the charged fee. But like all other laws that stop wrong-doings, instant effective execution is something we still lag in. Nothing really seems to prevent schools from seeking donations during admission time every year. And sadly, the guardians have to give in as they are helpless when their child’s future comes into question.