Steep school expenses encouraging one-child norm

June 29th, 2008 - 12:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) Rising school expenses are forcing young parents in India to have only one child, a study by a business chamber says. The study by the social development foundation of the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) found the average tuition fee for a child at private schools in large cities to be around Rs.35,000 annually.

In India, more than 30 million children are now educated in private schools. And their parents are being bled financially, Assocham said.

“It is hitting their budget very hard and potentially have a direct impact on children’s schooling. Parents are especially concerned about schools that put pressure on parents to make so-called ‘voluntary’ contributions,” the survey said.

Apart from the regular fees, parents spend an additional Rs.30,000-Rs.35,000 annually on uniforms, extra curricular activities, textbooks, stationery, school funds, sports and excursions, among others.

Transport comes to an average of Rs.12,000 per child annually, lunch costs Rs.9,600, footwear expense is Rs.4,000-Rs.5,000 , and uniforms account for Rs.3,500-4,500.

In contrast, textbooks - the most essential component of education - come to about Rs.3,000.

Even for private preparatory schools for children aged between three and five years, parents spend about 25,000 a term.

And the amount is higher in large cities and metros.

“School costs have risen at more than double the rate of inflation and come amid warnings to parents to plan early for their child’s education,” the survey said.

But the annual income of parents surveyed has not increased by more than 28-30 percent during the period.

“This has forced even well-off parents to plan for only one child,” said Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat.

The survey also showed that families with more than one child are the hardest hit.

The survey interviewed nearly 2,000 working parents across various cities in April-May. About nine out of 10 parents said meeting their wards’ school expenses was “very” difficult.

About 65 percent of them spend more than half their take-home pay on school fees, placing a significant burden on their family budget.

One out of 10 respondents said the high fees have influenced their choice of schools, with about 60 percent complaining that the money demanded does not justify the services offered.

Schools are also becoming more brand conscious, with many now insisting on branded outfits and footwear.

Parents of boys face a slightly larger bill, as they tend to spend more on their sons’ after-school activities such as sports, the survey said.

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