The decision by Ahmedabad International School (AIS) to start an optional course called ‘PYP Enriching Program’ has divided parents, with one section complaining to the Fee Regulatory Committee, District Primary Education Officer (DPEO) about the programme being ‘discriminatory’ in nature because the fee is fixed at Rs 1.35 lakh plus GST per year.
In the email complaint sent to DPEO and FRC for Schools, a group of parents stated that the fee of the optional course is higher than the academic fee for students in many standards. “Although the program is optional as mentioned by the school, it is discriminatory in nature and designed to create two separate classes for those opting for it and those not opting,” wrote parents.
The parents have written that the program discriminates against those who do not opt for it or cannot afford it as students come from various strata of the society. “Although FRC has allowed private schools to charge extra for additional services, it has made it very clear that it should not amount to profiteering or commercialisation of education, which clearly is the case here,” they wrote in the email.
The school’s ‘PYP Enriching Program’ has identified nine ‘activities’ to groom students’ potential. Among these are applied mathematics, enhanced reading, foreign languages, coding, robotics, and design thinking, as well as dance, music, theatre, and visual art.
Another issue, according to one parent, is that even if students do not choose the Enrichment programme, they will be allowed to go home only if those who choose to study it for an additional one hour after school. Parents claim that the school administration is using this tactic to force parents to enrol in the Enriching programme beginning in the academic year 2023-24.
It’s an optional course, maintains management
When approached, an AIS management official, Minesh Shah, said that parents’ complaints may not be valid. “This is an optional program and we are not forcing any of them to enrol their children in it. FRC has allowed us to offer such optional programs and it is very much within our rights to do so,” Shah said.
When asked about the timings for all students to leave from school, Shah said, “There are minimum hours decided for a school to function and not maximum hours. Those who do not opt for the Enriching program will be able to study more i.e. revision etc during that extra hour every day.”
Shah said about 600 students have so far opted for the program and that they started the program on parents’ request.