As the new academic session starts, most parents have one common complaint: schools are forcing them to buy books and uniforms from select shops at inflated prices.
Defying orders of the UT Education Department which had issued directions to all schools not to ask parents to buy books or uniforms from a particular shop, most of the schools are forcing the students to purchase books, uniforms and stationery from designated shops.
Several schools are selling books and uniforms on their campus, violating the guidelines issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education, Indian Certificate School Examination and the UT Education Department.
A CBSE circular issued in 2011 said, “The schools cannot indulge in any commercial activity or sell books, uniforms and other school-related paraphernalia on the campus.” ICSE had issued the same guidelines for its affiliated schools.
Despite strict orders, St Stephen’s School, Sector 45; Ryan International School, Mohali; Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School, Sector 40; Stepping Stones School, Sector 33; Chitkara School, Sector 25; St Joseph’s School, Sector 44; Vivek High School, Sector 38; and Kids-R-Kids and Delhi Public School, Sector 40, are amongst the schools which are selling books for all classes on their campus itself.
Principals, however, insist that they sell books on their campus only for parents’ convenience.
“Parents have found this a perfect deal, because they do not have to rush to the market in search of books. It is not necessary that the books we have prescribed would be available in the market. It’s not a profiteering business; instead we have kept a choice as well for parents to buy books from the market as well,” said H S Mamik, chairperson of Vivek High School.
He added, “The best part is that we still manage to provide books to the children before the school begins, unlike the government schools.”
Acting UT District Education Officer Chanchal Singh said that the UT Education Department had also issued orders asking schools not to indulge in any commercial activity or force parents to buy books or uniforms from select shops, which would otherwise lead to strict action.
St Soldiers School, Sector 28; St Anne’s Convent School, Sector 32; and Bhavan Vidyalaya School, Sector 27 have asked parents to buy books from a particular book store in Sector 19, where the price of books for class V-VIII varies from Rs 5,500-7,500. Ashiana Public School, Sector 46, in its circular has directed parents to buy books from a book store in Sector 22 while Sacred Heart School, Sector 26, wants parents to go to a book store in Sector 7 and New Public School recommends a book depot in Sector 17.
One of the parents whose child has taken admission to upper KG at Ryan International School, Mohali, said, “For the upper KG student, we have bought books worth Rs 4,000 while for our other child who is in class VII at St Stephen’s School, we have bought these for Rs 6,500 and both from the respective schools. Every year, prices increase by over Rs 2,500, which becomes a heavy burden along with the hiked fees.”
Another parent said, “Why can’t the schools prefer NCERT books, instead of such expensive publishers? It’s not only the books, we have to buy from the stores the mandatory stationery items as well. Schools should bring uniformity in this system, we should be allowed to buy books from any book store we like.”