Thursday, June 04, 2009

Even the poor are forced to pay 'capitation fee'

Well, this is not quite capitation fee, but comes pretty close to it. Nandini Voice For the Deprived, a Chennai-based NGO provides scholarships to poor school students in Tamil Nadu studying in government-owned and government-aided schools. The NGO now finds that these schools are collecting fees under various pretexts, such as parent teacher association, fee for notebooks, building fund etc. Which is unauthorised and against the rules and regulations of the government. So, these schools are collecting much more money than the stipulated levels and insist that the payment should be made only by cash. Cheques are not accepted. Proper receipts are not provided.

Poor families wanting to see their children educated find it impossible to pay money to pay to the school authorities and often take loans at exorbitant interest rates. There is distinct threat of dropouts of poor students from the schools due to such deplorable conditions, says Venkataraman who runs Nandini. Remember he stood for the Parliamentary elections this time! Venkataraman adds that it’s sad that the government appears not to be aware of the issue. Last year, the government had issued "cosmetic warnings” and carried out raids in a few schools – “playing to the gallery”, according to him. It’s particularly sad because poor families can never really improve their plight if generations are not able to get educated.

Will the TN government do something to set right the problem?

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