Education dept allows fee collection by pvt schools; no clarity on annual hike
In a departure from its previous stance, the school education department on Sunday said that private schools in the state could collect monthly fee.
In a letter shared with district education officers across the state on Sunday, the education department stated that it had earlier issued orders stopping schools from charging any fee until the resumption of normal classes. The department had, however, learnt that some schools were collecting the fee for the first three months of the new academic session in April, and students unable to pay the same were being struck off the rolls.
“Students who are unable to pay the three-month fee right now are being deprived of online classes and their names are being struck off the rolls of the school. In light of the updates, students should not be bound to pay the fee for three months. Instead, schools should only collect monthly fee from parents and ensure that students are not deprived of online education,” stated the letter.
Since March, the department has issued three directives stating that schools shouldn’t pressurise parents to pay any fee until normal classes resume. The last such order was issued on Saturday and stated that the department had received complaints from parents about schools that were pressuring them to pay the fee immediately. The letter had mentioned that action would be taken against erring schools. The new order issued on Sunday didn’t mention what led the department to reconsider its stance.
It further stated that no school could charge transportation fee during the lockdown. The department also said that parents facing financial distress due to the lockdown should not be forced to pay the monthly fee and could seek relaxation from schools.
“Business and livelihood of many parents have been affected due to the lockdown that has been implemented to contain Coronavirus. In such conditions, it won’t be possible for them to pay the fee and they should not be pressurised to deposit fee. If such parents approach the school, administration/ principals should consider postponing the fee payment for such parents in light of the lockdown,” the department said.
It stated that schools could collect the fee in instalments in the coming months by adjusting the arrears. The department also wrote that parents in a stable financial situation could pay the monthly fee.
The department said that parents could share their grievances as per Rule 158-A of Haryana School Education Rules, 2003, if schools were found not complying with the directive.
While schools said that the new directive brought much-needed relief, parents were not happy and said that the order mentioned nothing on the annual fee hike.
Colonel (retired) KR Pratap Singh, the president of the Haryana Progressive School Conference, a consortium of private schools, said that the new order would allow schools to pay teachers. “There were some schools that couldn’t pay complete salary to employees due to shortage of funds. Hopefully, parents will pay now. Earlier, the government had said that nobody needed to pay. If there are parents who are in financial distress, the government should compensate them,” said Singh.
Rashmi Malik, principal, Salwan Public School, Sector 15, said, “We welcome the order. At least the salary of the teachers will keep moving and they’ll get paid for all the efforts that they are putting in.”
Kailash Sharma, general secretary of Haryana Abhibhavak Ekta Manch, a parents’ body, said that parents were disappointed with the directive. “The government has ruled in favour of private schools. We oppose the order and will respond to it after holding consultations with members. We have asked parents to oppose this move and not pay under any situation,” said Sharma.
Tripti Singh, a parent, said that they had the provision of paying monthly fee even earlier and the new order mentioned nothing about a fee hike or additional heads. “Many parents are paying a monthly fee. They can opt between monthly or quarterly payments. This is not new. The crucial thing to note is that nothing has been said about additional heads such as annual fee, meal feel, whose invoice has been sent by schools. It also says nothing about the annual fee hike, which is an additional burden on parents,” said Singh.
The district education officer, Indu Boken, said that the department had taken into account the financial condition of parents, and such parents could seek relaxation from the school. “Schools can collect monthly fee from parents, but if the financial condition doesn’t allow them, they can seek a relaxation,” said Boken.