Privatisation and commercialisation have been stifling India’s educational sector for years now. School education costs are skyrocketing in the country, with recent data pointing to a 10-12% increase between 2012 and 2020.
Now, a school in Ahmedabad — the city is ranked No.8 in the cost-of-living index — seems to be making education a privilege for the elite. Recently, the FRC (Fee Regulatory Committee) disapproved of the upmarket Ahmedabad International School’s (AIS) overpriced fee structure.
Undeterred, the school in Bodakdev has found a new way to circumvent FRC’s directive. AIS is offering an optional Primary Years Programme (PYP) Enrichment Programme for grades one to seven students. The PYP cost is an exorbitant Rs 1.60 lakh, inclusive of GST. This is besides the school fee which is approximately Rs 1.42 lakhs. If students want to avail themselves of the PYP course, parents will have to shell out an astronomical amount of Rs 3.02 lakhs in all.
Vibes of India understands that 90% of the parents weren’t keen to enrol their children on the unaffordable PYP course.
But AIS seems to have turned vindictive. In what is deemed as an arm-twisting tactic, the school has made it mandatory for students to spend an extra hour at school even if they’re not part of the PYP programme.
“This is punishment. If my child does not opt for the PYP programme, she will not be allowed to leave school an hour earlier. She will have to wait till the day’s activity is over. We requested the school to not allow our children to wait 60 minutes daily. We have been told this is the price we will have to pay for not enrolling in the programme,” a young parent told Vibes of India.
Another parent, who didn’t wish to be named, claimed to have met Deepanshu Arora, the CEO and co-founder of Toddle, an educational platform affiliated with the school. The parent said, “I requested a school bus since most of the parents opted out of these expensive activities. Instead, he was angry and asked me to speak only for myself. Also, he said the school wouldn’t incur fuel expenditure in transporting students who don’t participate in activities like PYP.”
A few parents even offered to pick their children. The school has shot it down saying private vehicles will inconvenience the residents around. Arora and the school principal, Anjali Sharma, were not available for comment.
“The extra-curricular activities are diverse. They’re endorsed by the school management and conducted by quality coaches. For students, it’s an opportunity to showcase their skills at competitive events. However, the package is expensive. My child is interested in music, not in robotics,” a parent told VO!.
Another parent added, “The bouquet of co-curricular options ranges from athletics, swimming and football to instrumental, vocals, dance and robotics. But ever since the programme was introduced, our wards have been side-lined. One creative activity and choice of one sport must be offered in a school curriculum. The new programme has employed common coaches and music instructors. However, the school is denying children access to focused training during school hours. It’s punishing them for not enrolling in an afterschool activity.”
VO! met a senior school representative, Nimesh Shah, during a visit to the school’s campus. While he believed that the PYP programme was enriching, he admitted that the school was least concerned about complaints made by the parents.
Interestingly, AIS runs the IB curriculum till Grade 7. Between Grades 8 and 10, students have the option to choose between the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSEB) and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).
At the higher secondary level, the school routes students through three curriculum choices: IBDP, GHSEB and Cambridge AS and A Levels.
Parents have voiced these concerns to the school’s managing committee. Some of them aren’t certain if the school has an IB certification.