Parents of young children withdraw admission from private schools amid financial uncertainty
While some parents are moving to cheaper online classes, others are opting for pre-schools that charge a nominal fee as compared to formal schools.Updated: Jul 17, 2020 10:53 IST
A number of parents across the city are deregistering their children from nursery and pre-nursery classes of private schools amid the financial crisis and pay cuts caused by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19. While some parents are moving to cheaper online classes, others are opting for pre-schools that charge a nominal fee as compared to formal schools. Government schools also said that they have seen an uptick in students who were migrating from private to government schools.
Madhu Yadav, a mother of a three-year-old boy, withdrew her child’s admission from nursery in a private school in June. Yadav said that her family decided that it was best to withdraw admission from a formal school with physical classes remaining suspended and the uncertainty prevailing due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
“There are around 18-20 children in the online class on a daily basis. I feel that individual attention to students is not given in a situation like this and a personal connection with the teacher is missing. Moreover, there are worksheets that need to be submitted every day. We don’t feel the need to put so much pressure on a child at such a young age,” said Yadav.
Yadav is now continuing classes with a preschool, which conducts an hour-long online class with less than 10 students. The shift to a cheaper online mode, Yadav said, was also a financially viable option. “The preschool charges a nominal fee amounting to ₹3,000 whereas continuing with the formal school would mean paying anywhere between ₹30-40,000 fee for another quarter in addition to fees for extra-curricular activities. We didn’t want to pay so much for nothing, especially in such financially uncertain times,” said Yadav, who is considering applying to a formal school either next year or at a time when the pandemic gets over.
Deepika Chauhan’s three-year-old child was going to a formal school until April. However, with the school initiating online classes, Chauhan withdrew admission and is teaching the child at home. “The school started conducting online classes after the summer break. We realised that we were not able to give the time and support that was needed during these online classes. His screen-time was also increasing and we felt it was better to try for admission next year,” said Chauhan.
She said that while the school had given a small discount on the tuition fees, it was charging the annual fee, due to which several parents were withdrawing admission. “We will have to pay the admission fee again when we apply for next year but for now, we don’t see any merit in paying the quarterly fee when our child is unable to get the best out of these classes,” said Chauhan, who is also a teacher in a city school. She said that parents of children in lower classes were rescinding admission more in comparison to those in senior classes, who fear that withdrawing admission would mean loss of an academic year. “In the school where I teach, withdrawals are mostly taking place at the pre-primary or the primary level. There are various reasons ranging from financial distress to the lack of attention to younger children that are influencing parent’s decision,” said Chauhan.
In May, the directorate of school education had said that all students of private schools were expected to pay the monthly tuition fee regularly from June onwards, as per the normal routine followed in previous years. The Haryana government had issued orders regarding the payment of fees on April 23, according to which only monthly tuition fees could be collected during the lockdown. The department also said that parents facing financial distress could write to schools formally seeking a deferment. However, several parents have complained that with no formal monitoring, private schools are under no pressure to follow guidelines.
In order facilitate the transfer of students from private to government schools, the Haryana government had said that a school-leaving certificate(SLC) was no longer mandatory to take admission in the government schools. The move had drawn flak from private schools, which had criticised the move.
Gurugram block education officer Sudesh Raghav said, while the notification regarding SLC certificate had been withdrawn, government schools had been receiving applications from parents, who were switching from private to government schools. “There are parents who are opting for government schools due to financial distress. While these admissions are not happening at a large scale, government schools are nonetheless extending the maximum help to parents who might want to shift,” said Raghav.
Suman Sharma, principal of Government Model Senior Secondary School in Sector 4/7, Urban Estate, said added that a number of students from private schools have opted out of the school in the aftermath of the lockdown.
“Many of the children who are joining our school used to study in private schools earlier. With physical classes getting suspended due to the pandemic and parents struggling to pay the fees amid financial losses, they decided to move them to government schools. Parents don’t see the point in paying fees for online classes,” said Sharma.
Aparna Erry, principal of the DAV Public School in Sector 14 and chairperson of the Gurgaon Progressive Schools Council (a consortium of CBSE schools in the city) said that schools were charging monthly fee. “We are not charging the quarterly fee and in case, parents have major financial troubles, they can write to the school and request a deferment,” said Erry.