Published: 23rd May 2018
Bengaluru's Baldwin Schools to face inquiry over exorbitant prices of textbooks
Several parents said that they had to pay up to Rs 6,500 for Class I textbooks to Rs 9,899 for Class VIII
Parents of students studying in Baldwin Girls’ High School staged a protest on Tuesday against the alleged exorbitant prices of textbooks. Around 200 parents gathered for the protest and alleged that the school — through a single vendor — was charging a steep price for the books. They also said that the school gave out the book list late, by which time only a few books were available and that too at a premium. Books which were easily available elsewhere were not permitted by the school authorities, the parents have said.
There have been protests by the parents in the schools run by the Baldwin Group — Baldwin Girls’ High School, Baldwin Boys’ High School, and Baldwin Co-Educational School — for the past few days against the textbooks’ prices and they had complained to the education department. The parents alleged that the school was making it compulsory to buy books from a single vendor, that too from outside school premises which they claimed was illegal.
The schools will now face an investigation into the alleged malpractice and a team has been constituted last week by the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI), Bengaluru, which began its inquiry on Tuesday. The three schools under the scanner have been asked to present themselves before the committee for the inquiry. According to sources, the inquiry will take place on Wednesday and will include school management and the parents of students in the respective schools.
Several parents said that they had to pay up to Rs 6,500 for Class I textbooks to Rs 9,899 for Class VIII. Interestingly, the school denied any knowledge about the vendor’s involvement in selling the books although it was the schoolteachers themselves who had collected demand drafts from students to hand them over to the vendor, SLV Industries, for the books to be sold, the parents alleged.
Parents have alleged that they were forced to pick up textbooks from Woodlands Hotel premises off Rajaram Mohan Roy Road where SLV Industries had brought the books although the parents had paid charges — including home delivery charges — to get the books. When three parents went to Woodlands to pick up the books on Saturday after being informed the previous day to come there for the books, they were told they had run out of stock. Following verbal altercation on why they were forced to come there despite home delivery charges being paid and only to be told about non-availability of textbooks, one of the parents was allegedly roughed up by three bouncers, employed by the textbook vendor.
The vendor, reportedly contracted by the schools, was selling books at exorbitant rates that had taken parents by surprise. There was also the issue about uniforms. Several parents had already bought school uniforms, only to learn later that the school management had insisted on parents buying uniforms with new logos. Parents also complained about a frequent increase in school fees, which saw a 20 per cent hike this time.