A group of parents living in the Whitefield locality of Bengaluru were unhappy with the high fees in schools and poor quality education, so they decided to open a school of their own.
The Citizens Gurukul Trust is set to open its doors by the start of the new academic year and will run as a charitable, not-for-profit provider of pre-school education. Parents will have a say in everything from the fees to the school’s curriculum.
The founder of the trust, Abhilash Matlapudi, a 36-year-old project manager at a Bengaluru IT firm, came upon a conversation between parents on social media who were discussing the extortionate costs of private school education. This was to be the spark that lit the match for Abhilash to take action. He took the idea of opening a community-run school in his neighbourhood to a Whitefield-based citizen’s movement Facebook group, and the idea took off.
A number of meetings were held to discuss the idea further, and 14 members committed to the idea and contributed a cheque for Rs 10,000 each.
The school education system in India is costly and the costs are rising every year. A report in 2015 by The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, ASSOCHAM, stated that the costs of private school education in the last decade have increased at a pace faster than incomes, showing a 150% hike between 2005 and 2015. The report further stated that the cost of educating a child in a private school has risen from Rs 55,000 in 2005 to Rs 1,25,000 per annum in 2015. An estimated 3 crore children in the country study in private schools, says the survey.
Educational fees at The Citizens Gurukul Trust will be decided by the parent committee and any profits made will go into improving the school and teacher’s salaries. To ensure that no parents are burdened by the costs of setting up the school, the trust is relying on donations and CSR for the immediate needs of the endeavour. “We are in the final stages of finalising the MoU with the property owner and we will take up to 60 students this academic year,” Abhilash told The Hindu.