The income of Waqar Khan, who works as a financial advisor in Delhi, has fallen by almost 20 per cent since the start of the Kovid pandemic. This year, when her son’s private school raised rates by 10 percent, she had no choice but to leave that school and go to a public school.
Living in a small house with three children, this family is one of thousands of families dropping out of private schools due to inflation. Waqar Khan, 45, says that in 2021 he also took his eldest son out of private school and admitted him to government school.
Waqar Khan says, “I had no choice. For the past two years, the cost of the house had risen by 25 percent. In addition, private school fees have risen.”
At the end of the election, citizens were again affected by inflation.
Inflation is at its peak in India and the poorest middle class in the country is suffering the most. They have to reduce these expenses as they have not done in recent years. Since 2020, thousands of families have dropped out of private schools and moved to government schools.
By 2021, 40,000 children have dropped out of private schools, which is more than four per cent of students in India. More than nine million children in India are studying in private schools, which is 35 per cent of the total number of students. In 1993, only 9% of children studied in private schools.
This is a reversal of the trend that has been maintained over the past two decades, when the tendency of families of all classes to send their children to private schools had increased rapidly. All parents believed that private schools could better prepare their children for employment according to the demands of the modern market. But Kovid and the ensuing inflation have reversed that trend.
Khan says, “My family has been shaken. Sometimes I feel very disappointed and helpless because I can’t give my children a good education despite working so hard.” Khan’s daughter is in the 12th grade and still goes to a private school as she was unable to get a seat in any government school.
The fee structure of private schools in India is very high and complex. There are many types of fees that are charged, ranging from a few to several thousand depending on the state of the school. And this time not only have school fees increased but other expenses have also increased. For example, the rates for vans carrying children to school have increased by 15 percent.
Arjun Singh, 47, is driving a school van. He has three school vans of his own. He said that since April the share has increased by 35 percent because oil has become much more expensive. He says the price of CNG has almost doubled. India’s inflation rate stood at 6.95% in March, the highest in 17 months and above the Central Reserve Bank’s target.
Schools said there was compulsion
Aparajita Gautam, president of the Delhi Parents Association, says many private schools have increased fees by 15 per cent since this year. His organization also staged protests outside several private schools. In response, the Delhi government simplified the admissions process for public schools and also talked about auditing private schools. The government wanted the rate increase limit to be increased to 10 per cent, but could not pass.
“Most schools are forcing parents to pay more fees or be prepared for the consequences,” Gautam says.
The situation is similar to other cities in the country as well. In Calcutta alone last month, about 70% of the city’s private schools had raised rates by 20%. Schools justify this increase. Sudha Acharya, head of the National Conference of Progressive Schools and director of the ITL Public School, says schools are also affected by inflation. “It is not possible to maintain the quality of education without raising school fees,” Acharya said.
A study by the Delhi-based Center Square Foundation found that by 2021, of the country’s 4.5,000 private schools, 70 per cent had a minimum monthly fee of 1,000 rupees per student. These schools had to face losses of up to 20-50 percent during the pandemic.
VK / CK (Reuters)