MUMBAI: While parents struggle to pay annual school fees between Rs 12,000 and 18,000, a south Mumbai family outsourced a single Std X project for Rs 26,000.

The cost of outsourcing projects has skyrocketed over the years. Regular project work is now compelling parents to send their children for tutorials, giving rise to a new cottage industry.

Meenakshi Chirawawala, a professional who compiles school projects, charged a student Rs 26,000 for an assignment recently. The student was one of the top scorers in his class and wanted to secure top marks in the assignment. His mother, a resident of Altamount Road, just asked me to spruce up the task. I not only researched into the topics given to students, but also included a lot of craftwork. she said.

The task of embellishing the project work involves making it more colourful; the use of various types of inks and papers increases its cost, say experts. Moreover, parents demand that the professionals make the best project. Atit Shah, an engineering student who coaches students in preparing projects, said, I charge Rs 5,000 a month for nearly 10 sessions. Students have to complete projects in every subject, therefore, parents are seeking professional help to train them.

We guide students in compiling matter and different forms of presentation.s services as a project assistant are listed in business directories. With all the education boards earmarking 20 marks in each subject for internal projects, the demand for good project work guides has gone up. Currently, students have to secure a minimum score of 90% to get admission into any of the toprung city colleges.

Students in Std X also unable to meet the submission deadlines with greater emphasis on studies. Parents want wards to bag top scores and leave no stone unturned, Chirawawala added. For a parent of a Std X boy, the money spent on projects has become an integral part of their monthly budget. A parent of a child who studies in an ICSE school said, Students have to complete assignments throughout the academic year. We end up spending between Rs 7,000 and Rs 15,000 per month. Students do not have the time to work on these projects ahead of the board exam. We treat the money spent on outsourcing project work as tuition expenses.

The project work involves research and then summarising the findings. Once the guide has finished the assignment, students have to merely write it in their handwriting. A school told students to visit nationalised, private and foreign banks and then asked them to compare the fixed deposit interest rates. The guides ensured that different projects are compiled on the topic for submission.