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Rs 17 lakh for a KG seat in Chennai!

New Delhi, Nov. 29 -- Education has become flourishing business for many elite schools in India. Astronomical sums are being charged for Nursery and KG seats. And surprisingly, rich parents do not mind as it has become a status symbol in Indian metros.

For instance, P Balram* was particular about the school his daughter should go to. And he was willing to go to any extent to get admission there. So, before the school could ask for a donation, he offered to set up a computer lab for 7 lakh. It was an offer the Kilpauk school couldn't refuse. Another parent got an admission for his child in a school in Mylapore by promising a basketball court that cost Rs 17 lakh.

It might sound strange, but parents are finding innovative means to make donations to schools to get seats for their children. Some are willing to shell out several lakhs for admission to kindergarten in top schools. And this has redefined capitation fee, which has now morphed into "informed contributions" and "returnable investments."

Educational consultant K R Maalathi said parents were willing to cough up huge money for such "gifts" for additional benefits. "Parents feel that it not only gets them a seat but goes a long way in promoting goodwill between students and the school management," she said. As one school head puts it, "Unlike in other sectors, in education the recommendation is for paying more money, not less."

While the Union ministry for human resource development is drawing up a legislation to eliminate excess fees and capitation fees in schools, parents are playing along school authorities to find newer ways of money exchange for seats. Some schools have started treating parents as 'stakeholders' for a price, of course. Instead of getting loans from banks, a new age school in the city's outskirts has asked parents to lend the management any amount of money in multiples of Rs 10,000 for which the school will pay the interest rates offered by banks.

Sunitha Grace (name changed), mother of two girls studying in the school, said she had offered the school management Rs 2 lakh - a lakh for each child - towards future projects taken up by the school. "I was saving it for their education. I don't have anything to lose," Sunitha said.

Insiders say that school managements are able to offer seats to parents by giving dummy names to a small percentage of seats while allotting most seats by drawing lots. Say, a school has 250 LKG seats. Sources say 200 to 225 seats are filled by drawing lots, while the rest are booked so they can be allotted for influential persons.

Some schools also ask parents for around Rs 1 lakh as interest-free refundable deposit that will be given back when the child leaves school. Many times schools reserve a couple of seats for members on the school board or among the trustees of the society.

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Publication:Asian Tribune (India)
Date:Nov 29, 2012
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