Saturday, March 7, 2015

Why Schools in Indian Cities take Cash Donation for Pre-Primary Admissions?

Is it really so? You may ask if you do not have a child to be admitted to the schools and if you do not happen to live in any big Indian city.

But ask the young parents who live in the Indian metros. In private conversations they curse the Indian government and the city school managements and complain about the blackmailing and the exploitation that the big city Indian schools keep on perpetuating. Education is not allowed to be run a any business in India. Education is reserved for the so-called societies and trusts to be carried out on a non-profit basis. The schools of India in the private domain have to be run only by non-profit societies and trusts set up in the guise of charity , religion or social empowerment!

School fees in the past in India, both in the private and in the government run institutions used to be very negligible and no one made any profit by running these institutions. In the private, it used to be almost a social service and a philanthropic service.

But the situation changed in the past two decades. Governments pulled away from urban education and created situations for the private schools to charge heavy fees. The private schools which have been in existence for many decades having all the necessary infrastructure became the immediate beneficiaries as large sums began to flow to their coffers as fees.

The convents and all those minority cash starved educational institutions of India soon became cash rich, attracting the clever ones in their lot to get in to the managements of these institutions. The priests, the bishops and such others from other religions who have educational institutions all became more and more influential and powerful. They set the example to clever individuals to set up charitable educational societies and educational institutions under their respective banners.

Education soon have turned out to be a big profit business without any one any time to pay any taxes or to be accountable to any one! To their merriment, India soon was having a growing population of young parents whose average incomes stood several times higher than the average incomes of the rest-of-India. These higher income neo-middle class gained from the digital economy and the dollars that flowed from the West.

The digital economy parents are fortunate people in the eyes of the rest-of-India.

Many of them are the new-age employees of shining India. Several of them have been employed fortunately by the so-called multi-national companies whose managements do not exploit them to the extent that their India only company managements do with regard to their salaries and perks. Obviously their salaries and perks do make them objects of envy by the rest-of-India.

They are considered to be better educated as they are comfortable in communicating in English- the language of the Indian 'elitists' and they have all the reasons to believe that their prosperity is due to English. So, naturally they are not prepared to forgo English at any cost. They want their children too to be well versed in English and maintain their enviable status in the society.

Unfortunately for them, they are a minority and they are not the vote bank for the Indian politicians. They may be good communicators in the social media of Facebook, Twitter and the like. But the Indian politicians have been shrewd enough to realize the insignificance of these digital economy middle class as far as the election and the vote bank politics are concerned.

So whether they like it or not, the Indian politicians and the Indian socio-religious outfits keep on exploiting them well. 

The elite schools and the elite home builders of the metros began to extract a good part of the money the digital employees have been making. Education and housing have become the two things through which this clandestine extraction worked!

The tri-corner clandestine nexus between the Indian administration, the Indian education barons and the Indian housing barons drains the fortunes of the highly paid Indian neo middle class MNC employees. But the best part about this was the ignorance of the inflicted to realize about it!

It is like the leach sucking the blood painlessly! 

So, how much money you paid for getting your only child to the Indian city school which bears the name of a saint of the past? (many of these so-called well- to- do' s of India have only one child because they are too conscious of the expenses involved!)

Oh, the fees are not very much, it is affordable. Many of them might say in public as they are also too conscious of the status damage their irresponsible complaints could cause!

It is only about Rs.10000/- per month, they might explain. You see, these schools do not allow the child to speak other than in English and they take so much attention to erase the child's mother tongue that had gone in to its brains by mistake! This is a very difficult task indeed and a big service that the school is doing for such a small fee! There are many more expenses for these schools and that is why they are expensive. Some of them might even become staunch supporters of these school managements!

But what happens to the huge sums they collect? What happens if you do not have the money? Indirectly, these schools are allowed to become bench markers for school education costs in India. Let us do a simple arithmetic:

The school is collecting Rs.10000/-x 50 = Rs.0.5 million per month from the parents of fifty odd pre-primary children who have not yet begun their formal class-I learning! 

How many divisions of classes one such school has? How much money such a school would be collecting for a month for all the classes up to senior secondary level? 

If on the average, there are five sections of 50 students for each class, the school would be having (2+10+2)x5x50=3500 students. That is the average strength of any such school. But many of the city schools run in two shifts and have more than double that strength of students. So what is the money they collect in an year as fees? Even if you take the lower fee of Rs. 2500/- an Indian city school with 3500 children collects about 10 million rupees as annual fees. Imagine those who collect more fees and with more children!

How much would be their expenditure? Most of the schools that exist for a few decades have got the land and the infrastructure almost free because of their religious charity status. No doubt they keep improving their infrastructure just to woo the gullible status- over-conscious parents! But the teachers they have are not any extra ordinary souls of extreme caliber! Most of these schools have just ordinary Indian folks as teachers who are paid a monthly salary which could be equivalent to the fee paid by just 5-10 children! Many such schools also do not pay a salary at par with the government run schools in the Indian villages!

But they do have a high profile principal and a few other high status displaying lady teachers who talk English in some artificial style. They are trained to treat the parents according to the latter's social and monetary standing. And that works perfect for the status over-conscious parents that they easily fell to the trap laid by the schools!

Invariably all these schools adopt more or less the same methodology to fool the gullible parents. Remember, they are not hapless parents, but gullible ones! They are party to make the traps to which they jump!

When they go to the school to meet the principal, they are stopped at the gate by a security guard in uniform only to be told that the principal does not meet parents. The first thing these parents have to do therefore is to try some influence to get an appointment to meet such a principal who is projected as more than the Chief Minister of the state! The more the difficulty, the more is the status of the school! The status conscious Indian parent should not have any complaints in this context.

Once the parent gets to meet the principal, he or she would be told about the the government rules that make it difficult for the child to get to this school. This is to assess the parents' eagerness to get the child admitted to this school. 

The clever school principal and his team are professionals who know pretty well how to tackle the parents. The artificial majesty of their office and the sharp care-least attitude make all the difference! 

To the gullible parent who fell in their trap would be told about the method of procuring the admission forms at high costs (usually in the thousands), the type of tests, interviews and the various kinds of fees that are collected with receipts. The child is going to be trained in all trades and tricks to be a winner in this competitive world! And all such trades and tricks are pretty expensive to be taught!

Then they inform about the most important fee- the lump sum one time donation that they should shell out for maintaining the great school in its grandeur!  And of course, the latter money has to be paid in cash and there would not be any cash receipt! After all faith is all that you need in this kind of a business! 

And how much is this faith fee? Nothing much for the affluent Indian parent who draws a take home salary of more than Rs.100000/- per month! It is just peanuts ranging from Rs. 150,000 to Rs. 500,000/- only! This is the current applicable rate in the various metro, semi metro cities of India as in 2015 as I have learnt about it! If the parent has approached through any influential person, then usually a rebate up to 50% might be offered!

Will they accept a banker's cheque or a demand draft? No, no! Only cash here! But how to get cash when the government says not to do any transactions above Rs.20,000/- in cash? Will not amount to an illegal activity? 

The school authorities are least bothered and they do not seem to accept the government restrictions regarding cash transactions! And why should they? What happens to the huge cash (unaccounted black money) they collect this way? 

No Indian politician so far has got the courage to change this! They simply do not see this happening right in front of their noses. And why should they when the parties involved in these transactions have no grievance at all! 

Is it my imagination? Read this article which appeared in the Hindu a couple of years ago. The situation keeps worsening year after year!

When business minded people grab the opportunity to make money through education exploiting the peoples' sentiments, it is understandable. At least, they have to create the infrastructure for the school by spending money from their pockets or by taking loans from the banks.

Many Christians do contribute money for their churches and missionary organizations to set up and run schools, educational institutions and hospitals for the benefit of the society. Sharing some thing good that they have with others is considered as a life mission of a Christian, regardless of what good is shared-material good or spiritual good! They are supposed to do both. For various reasons, this missionary zeal is often misunderstood!

An elite Christian School in Jharkhand spends their surplus 
to provide educational facilities to the poor tribal children.
A march past of the tribal children in the campus of the elite school!

But it really makes me sad when people tell about the acts of some Christian priests and nuns who resort to illegal money making in the guise of education in this nation.

Now how can they be any different when the whole society is immersed in corruption? One may ask!

What could we do? What can be done?

I do not say that we do not need good quality schools. Education is very important and every child in this country needs to get quality education. But at the same time we should not attempt dividing our society and our children into elites and non-elites, the same mistake some of our forefathers have done.

We should not expose our children to the dirty face of corruption in the same place where they are going to mold their characters. What are we going to tell our children about morality when the principal of their school is the one who takes illegal money for getting them admissions?

Why do we have principals' offices in pomp when the teachers of the same school share the same room and the same furniture with little luxury? Why some principals are paid exorbitant salaries and perks while several of their counterparts in other schools are not?

Why can't the schools publish their audited accounts to all those who are concerned with the schools, the parents and the public at large. Why can't they be accountable?

The government of India recently has proposed to bring private companies in the purview of the anti-corruption laws. Will they do it for the private educational institutions? 

Will the government dare to raid some schools to find unaccounted money in cash kept in the schools just as they do for the business houses? 

It is not so easy. The schools have great influential power because they are dealing with the children of influential people. By shrewd manipulation they have learnt the tricks of satisfying the powers that be. The more shrewd their management, the more influential the school!

It is getting too close to what is called crony capitalism. At least some in India are getting too happy about it!

Fortunately this crony capitalism is not the invention of India. Indians are just imitating those whom they now consider as successful in achieving material prosperity. With time all of them would realize their follies!

I am compelled to quote an optimistic warning that the authors of my favorite book of life guidance give:

"Humans should get a vision of a new and higher cultural society. Education would jump to new levels of value with the passing of the purely profit motivated system of economics. Education on earth has long been localistic, militaristic, ego-exalting and success-seeking. It must eventually become world-wide, idealistic, self-realizing and cosmic grasping. The control of education is being passed from the hands of the clergy to the hands of businessmen now. Eventually it must shift into the hands of philosophers and scientists. Teachers would eventually become free beings and  real leaders. Search for wisdom would eventually become the chief motive behind all educational pursuits".

Hopefully, the present age problems of education is temporary in nature and it would refine to good in the years to come!

Note Added on 16th March 2015

At last the government of India seems initiating some actions in this context. In today's Hindustan Times Online there is this news titled: Special team probing black money set to crack down on unaccounted funds in education sector.  The news reports: 'A private study by the Mumbai-based Centre for Research and Prevention of Computer Crimes in 2014 said the business of education generates Rs 48,400 crore of black money annually' (in India!). 


  1. Try to forward this to Delhi Cm. Because as on date I think he only can understand the seriousness. Why don't you publish this as an article in newspapers? Let it spread as much as it can. How much I wish Swach Bharat abhyan Of PM includes Swach Bharat from exploitation and corruption. N I don't know how v people become the victim of brand image. It is not less than addiction...

    1. Thank you for showing and sharing your anguish. Will there any one who stop to think about it?
      Will someone who read this let others know about this problem?
      Just a wish.................!

  2. I know there will be many difficulties and challenges but I am determined to do it. If it does not succeed then it will be a lesson for me as well


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  4. The information was great. The more number of school in India is like that. Keep posting more topics.
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