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School fee regulation will bring quality in teaching: Interview with Seema Agarwal

Private schools fee regulation will bring quality in teaching, says Hyderabad School Parents Association (HSPA) vice president Seema Agarwal in an interview with Fasiullah SM. She talks about HSPA and its activities, while noting that multi-tasking is a woman’s forte.

Below are excerpts:

How HSPA came into existence?

HSPA started in 2008 when there’s economic slump and people had lost jobs in Satyam. People had economic low at that time. They did know how to do about normally in their daily life. Inflation was high.

In this situation, private schools suddenly started increasing fees by 30 to 50 percent. Parents became enraged due to hike. They didn’t know how to handle that. Then certain like-minded parents got together to against the mighty school managements.

Five to seven parents were leading the initiative at that time, including Subbu, Vikrant, Kamal, Ravi and Kumar. It was the YSR regime then and he was very supportive of the agitation of the parents. Therefore, government order (GO MS 91) came into form. But the schools management challenged it in the high court, and got a stay order.

Does HSPA fight for other school parents issues apart from fee regulation in private schools?

Parents do approach us. But primarily our focus is fee regulation. We don’t want it to get diluted. We really want to achieve fee regulation. However, other things related to it have to be taken care of.

Don’t you think fee regulation will adversely affect quality in teaching?

Quality in education should not suffer. Many believe that if fee regulation comes, then quality in education will suffer. But what we believe is the quality will improve. When one time high admission fee comes down, it will allow parents to move to any school. Then there will be competition in schools to retain students and offer better quality in teaching.

How does it feel to be a woman and leading the cause from the front?

I feel very much attached to the cause. I never felt there’s some difference. Both men and women in the team have come together for the cause with different capabilities.  We have a great team. There’s no difference between leadership of man or woman. I feel like strong and can lead. I get more time to spend for the cause. As a woman, we are good at multi-tasking.

How do you evaluate your cause so far?

HSPA is fighting genuinely and selflessly. It is fighting for the truth. In 2010 we had almost won the case. Just because of some technical flaws, the regulation didn’t get implement. When the case reinitiated in 2015, the schools were ordered to submit their financial records. We organized many agitations and dharnas in recent times. Also, we brought in more parents. It really worked. This year SC supported what HSPA has been saying that the government has all authority to regulate fee.

Have you collaborated with other organizations for support in FRCs implementation?

We have always been open to it. We formed Joint Action Committee (JAC) for school fee regulation in March this year.

Any specific move HSPA is planning to ensure quality in teaching?

Regulation itself will bring quality in teaching. That’s what we firmly believe. It will address admission fee problem, and ensure parents representation in decision making management committees at schools. This will bring transparency in the system, leading to better quality in teaching.

Watch: Full interview with Seema Agarwal of HSPA

About SM Fasiullah

A writer by choice, learner by nature, and social servant by passion. "Woods are lovely, dark and deep; But I have promises to keep; Miles to go before I sleep; Miles to go before I sleep" - Robert Frost

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