Why parents opt for one child?

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New Delhi, Jun 29 (UNI) With the cost of schooling, especially privately run schools, becoming prohibitive and rising steeply, even well to do parents choose to have a single child, a survey by an apex business chamber shows.

According to an ASSOCHAM survey, school expenses excluding tution fees have risen from Rs 25,000 in 2000 to Rs 65,000 per annum in 2008 for a child. The annual income, however, of an average economically better off family has not risen by more than 28 per cent to 30 per cent during this period.

In the random survey nearly 2,000 working parents were interviewed in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Dehradun, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Chandigarh by the ASSOCHAM research team. The survey was conducted during the months of April-May 2008.

The survey brought to light that nine out of 10 parents find meeting their ward's school costs "very" difficult.

These expenses include uniforms, books, stationery, transport, sports activities, school trips, contributions to upgradation of schools, and school aids. The total expenses for learning are many times higher than school fees.

The following table gives details of average annual expenses for a child in 2008: ITEM COST (RS) Shirt/ Trousers/Skirts 2500 Shoes 3500 Bag/Bottles 1500 Sports Kit 2000 Text books 3000 School trips 2500 School Clubs 1500 Technology 1500 Packed lunches + Transport + Tution 32800 Building Fund 10,000 Fairs 3000 Stationery/Newspapers 3000 Nearly one in ten respondents indicated that the cost associated with schooling has affected their choice of the school they send their wards to.

Sixty five per cent of parents spend more than half their take-home salary on their children's education, which is a significant burden on the family budgets.

A high 60 per cent of parents complained that education was now being run like a commercial enterprise. The high tuition fees is not justified by the services rendered by schools. Besides, the erratic fee hike effected each year by the school managements is an irritant.

An estimated over 30 million children are educated in private schools, with fees usually rising well above the inflation rate.

Parents are also concerned at schools putting pressure on them to make so-called 'voluntary contributions,' the survey said.

The survey shows that the cost of private day schools, with an average annual fee of Rs 60,000, is considerably higher in metropolitan cities. Private prep schools for those aged 3 to 5 cost about 25,000 a term.

The long and short of the story is that while family planning did not make much headway in India, the high cost of schooling has done the trick of having smaller families.

UNI PDT/GS SBA KP1137

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