Marksheet fee, ever heard of?
Several schools are charging money from students
THERE IS no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace.
These are the words of former Secretary General of United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan. He talks about the children’s rights and respect for these rights, however, there are many educational institutions in our country who find his words Greek. Here we are talking about some institutions that believe that education is free but marksheets are not. There are schools that are charging as much as Rs 3000 for board exam marksheets from students.
“We work for poor kids and provide them free education but marksheets are not free. Our school charges for providing marksheets of board examination and certifi cates to children. This has been there for years and everyone complains,” said the principal of a school that has been charging money in lieu of the board marksheet.
So education is free and a right! Uniforms, mid-day meals and books are free but the basic document that authenticate the educational qualifi cations, the very essentials of the education system—Marksheets, comes at a cost. Several schools across the country are charging money to provide board marksheets to the students and the poor parents, ignorant of the fact no such rule exists, are paying money for marksheets that is free and their right. Strangely, this has been a practice for years and no action has been taken so far. The amount ranges from Rs. 400 or lesser to as much as 3000 and above. And there is no receipt for the payment.
Talking to media, the principals of these schools have several reasons to justify their “marksheet fee”. One of them includes “This is not for marksheets but for the certificates that are provided along with themarksheets.” So, according to these schools’ administration, these four or five sheets of papers, needed to prove the authenticity of a students’ years of labor, cost from hundreds to thousands of rupees.
Where are the laws? Where are the authorities concerned and the worst of all, why are the parents bowing to this?
Here are the stories:
CASE I: Happy at the score of over 85 per cent, an IIT aspirant goes to collect his marksheet. Along with the copy of admit card and school id, he is asked to pay Rs. 3000 as “marksheet fee”. Here the kid and his parents very polietly try to reason the demand for money. They are told, “this is the rule of our school. All others have paid, why are you so reluctant?” Sheepishly, the father pays the fees for the marksheet thinking that rules differ from school to school and the practice continues….
CASE II: Getting through a very prestigious college, a law aspirant is demanded Rs 1500 in lieu of the marksheets. Going a little bold the student denies to pay and opposes the illegal practice. The result is shameful. The parent is insulted by the principal of the school and threatened that the marksheet will be forfeited. Scared that delay in marksheet may hamper his ward’s future, the parent pays for the marksheet and forgets about it.
CASE III: Another student goes to collect the marksheet and simply pays off without any questioning thinking that this is a rule.
These were some of the parents we met. Some did not know that this was illegal and willingly paid the amount while some were scared that the marksheets of their kids might be seized by these school and thus, to save their child’s future they made the payments.
These schools are openly making a mockery of the laws and the administration while the authorities concerned are passing the buck on to the parents. Offi cials at the CBSE office admit that they have been receiving some verbal complaints every now and
then but as nothing has been received in writing, no concrete action could be taken. Surprisingly, the department has never taken suo-moto cognizance of this widely practiced practice of taking money for marksheets.
When confronted by the media, the school authorities deny any such charges and assert that the students are given marksheets and other certificates free of cost. One of the school officials did accept that money is being charged and explained that as they had lost some money in some transaction they were “forced” to take some “nominal amount from the students”. Reacting to this, one of the victim parents said: “Who gave them the right to recover their losses from the students. These are all excuses and these are the people who make black money and the result is that the nation suffers.” Activists working in the field of education allege that there is a big nexus in which all these institutions and even government officials areinvolved. Whatever money they get is shared among all these people involved and thus the entire system that fleeces students remains insulated from any punitive action.
However, till there is no awareness about the fact that whatever is happening is illegal, nothing could be done. Time and again there have been lack of trust in the checks and balancing authorities of our country and this is another glaring example of the kind of security the common people have been provided with. Parents do not trust the authorities concerned much, no one dares to complain against these law breakers for law in India does not culminate in deliverance of justice but into a never ending, torturing and cumbersome vicious circle of visits to the courts. As one of the parents says, “When I tried to threaten these school people of complaining against them, they confidently shrug off the threat saying ‘Sir, wo bhii toh khaate hai’!”