Parents allege they are directed by managements to purchase from ‘approved’ vendors
With the new academic year around the corner, many parents in the city are finding out that schooling doesn’t come cheap. For instance, one set of uniforms for a Class 1 student costs around Rs. 4,000. The branded school shoes cost a few thousand rupees. As do the textbooks, which need to be purchased, often at up to thrice the retail price, directly from the schools.
Many parents say they are helpless and are forced to buy books, uniforms, shoes and stationery from either the school or a vendor identified by it. “School managements have an unholy arrangement with the vendors and are given commission as parents tend to purchase these items in bulk. We parents have no choice but to cough up this huge amount as schools tie up with the vendors on books and uniforms,” said a parent of a student at a leading west Bengaluru school.
Many school managements that The Hindu spoke to justified the “arrangement”, saying it was aimed at bringing in uniformity. But none of them could explain the extra charge.
Many cave in
While a majority of parents have bought the items knowing that they are paying extra, the few who have protested haven’t had any success.
One parent, whose child is a pre-primary student at a school in the Central Business District, said they have been asked to buy books from an online portal which sells them at three times the MRP. “Last year, we were asked to pay Rs. 3,000, but I found out that the actual cost of the books was only Rs. 800. Why should I pay so much when I can procure it for less?” the parent asked.
Another parent, whose child goes to a school on Sarjapur Road, said she was asked to pay Rs. 5,200 for multiple sets of uniforms, Rs. 6,000 for the textbooks, and Rs. 1,650 for shoes. “We refused to buy the branded shoes and we did not want multiple uniforms as many of last year’s uniforms are as good as new. We have written mails to the school management, but they simply reply that we have to comply as they do not want the students to wear ‘faded uniforms’,” the parent said.
‘Stop the loot now’
What also irks parents is that schools change their vendors once in two or three years. The managements also tend to make minor changes to the uniform so that the parents are forced to buy new sets. Opposing this, a citybased parent, Shahid Ansari, started an online petition earlier this week, demanding that the authorities concerned impose proper regulations on private schools. His tagline for the petition is: ‘stop the loot now’. The petition calls upon the authorities to take action, saying every school has its own set of books/stationery, offered at a higher price than the market rate.