Nine of 10 students yet to pay April and May school fees in around 53% of 170 pvt schools in the city
Nine of 10 parents did not pay their children’s fees for the months of April in around 48% of 170 private schools in Delhi due to the economic slowdown triggered by a nationwide lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, shows data collected by a committee of at least 400 unaided schools in the city. The proportion worsened in May, to 64 % of the schools.
The data, from Action Aided Committee of Private Recognised and Unaided Schools, said that 82 of the 170 schools received the monthly fees — ranging from ₹1,100 to ₹5,500 — from 5-10% of the students in April, with the number going up to 108 schools in May.
The enrolment in these schools ranges from 1,000-3,000 students. There are 1,175 private schools in the city.
The situation in April in the other 47% of the schools wasn’t much better -- in 25% of the schools, only between 10% and 25% of children paid fees; and in 15% of the schools, between 25% and 50% of children; and 10% of schools , from between 50% and 75% of the children. Only 5 schools, around 3%, received fees from 75% to 100% of students. (The total exceeds 100% marginally because of rounding of)
The fee collection dipped further in May, with not a single school receiving the fees from 75-100% students — 64% schools received fees from 5-10 % of the enrolled students, 20% from 10-25% students, 11% from 25-50% of the students and 6% schools receiving fees from 50-75% students.
The majority of the schools said the parents cited dwindling savings, loss in business, salary cuts and an expectation that the government might waive off the fees as reasons for not paying the fees.
On April 18, the Delhi government directed private schools to charge fees only under the tuition head during the Covid-19 lockdown. The schools were asked not to demand money under any other component and were warned of action under the Disaster Management Act if they failed to comply.
Although schools were shut on March 19 in view of the lockdown, they continued virtual classes and sending online study material to their students till May 30, before announcing summer vacations. Officials said that if the government doesn’t allow physical reopening of schools, online classes will resume from the first week of July.
Among the components the schools have not been charging amid the lockdown are the annual fee, which varies between ₹2,000 and ₹10,000 (charged yearly, half-yearly or quarterly), a monthly development fund, which ranges from 5-10% of the tuition fee, the monthly charges for smart classes (₹200 to ₹500) and transportation (₹600 to ₹2,000, depending on the location) .
Schools said it will be difficult for them to pay their staff in June if more parents do not pay up.
Sanjay Yadav, the principal of Ahlcon International School, said many parents have requested the administration for a fee relaxation during the lockdown. “Many parents sought some time for the payment of fees over the last two months, citing financial difficulties they are facing during the lockdown. Our fee collection was better in April. It reduced in May and we are now really sceptical about June. We have to pay our staff regularly, besides the payments to vendors and support staff. The school has already taken a loan and it’s expected that we will have to take additional loans if the collection remains the same in June,” he said.
Tania Joshi, principal of the Indian School, said that some parents have promised to pay fees after the lockdown is lifted. “Parents will have to understand that the schools will have to pay the salaries of their staff as well. They are constantly working and teaching students online,” she said.
Hari Prakash Sharma, the general secretary of Unaided RecognisedPrivate Schools Welfare Association, an umbrella body of 100 private schools in rural areas of Delhi, said many students had left for their home states. “Families of many of our students left for their villages and towns after losing jobs, which is why they have not paid the fees. A large section of students studying in these schools have parents working in factories, small-scale industries and wholesale markets across the city,” he said.
Majority of the parents said they could not pay fees due to the financial crises triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Vishal Gupta, who runs a garment shop in Karol Bagh, said he has not earned anything in the last two months.
Gupta’s daughter studies in class 5.
Abhishek Singh, whose children are studying in classes 6 and 8 of a private school in west Delhi, said he has not been paid by his employer — a factory owner in Peeragarhi industrial area — since April.
AK Bhattacharya, the president of Action Aided Committee of Private Recognised and Unaided Schools, said many schools have not been able to pay full salaries to their teachers amid the lockdown due to non-payment of fees by parents. “Many parents have genuine reasons and we are not forcing them to pay fees. But there are many who are taking advantage of the Delhi government’s April 18 order that had prohibited the schools from taking any action against students over non-payment of fees amid the lockdown. But now, we do not know for how long the lockdown will continue. How will the schools survive?”
Bharat Arora, general secretary of the committee, said “It’s not just these 170 schools; the trend is the same in other schools as well. It’s going to be really difficult for the schools to pay salaries to the teachers for the month of June. Many parents have this misunderstanding that the government might waive the fee for the lockdown period.”
Binay Bhushan, director, Directorate of Education (DoE), said the government cannot waive school fees. “There is no provision (for this).”
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