Parents protest outside Panchkula school over ‘fee hike’
More than 40 parents protested for over two hours outside St Soldier Divine Public School, Sector 16, Panckula, over a ‘hike’ in fees, on Saturday.
They raised slogans of “No school, no fee” and “Make education free for all”.
In a signed letter that was later pasted on the school’s gate, the parents wrote: “ Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not in a position to afford the fee structure uploaded by the school on its portal.”
Parents demanded that there should be full fee concession for three months – April, May and June, as no classes were conducted.
“From July onwards, we will only pay the amended tuition fee of ₹3,050 per month. No additional cost like annual charges should be levied for whole academic year,” the letter said.
One of the parents who participated in the protest said: “In February, the school revised the fees from ₹3050 to ₹3,367, which we thought is the annual hike of 10%. In March, when we logged into the school portal to submit the fees, we found the school was now charging ₹5,200.”
“When we raised the issue, the fee was reduced back to ₹3050 for April and May. But now, from June onwards, it has been changed back to ₹5,200, plus ₹2,200 as bus charges.”
Another parent said: “We are not ready to pay the hiked fee. Due to the lockdown, many businesses have been adversely affected. Many have taken salary cuts and lost jobs. Amid such a scenario, how can school authorities expect us to pay the increased fee?”
Neera M Singh, manager of the school, said, “In the previous academic year, the school was charging fees under two heads; one was monthly fee of ₹3,050 and another under the ‘other charges’ category, which the school charged twice a year, amounting to ₹20,000.”
“This academic year, on the parents’ request, we combined the two fee structures and added 10% hike, as per government norms. So, the new fee was ₹ 5,200. This was conveyed to parents much in advance.”
The manager said: “For the lockdown period, the school is charging last year’s fee of ₹ 3,050 and nothing else. The parents don’t understand that the school has only merged the fee structures and has not raised it much.”