‘Private schools in Delhi to not hike fees during lockdown’: Manish Sisodia
The country is currently under a nationwide lockdown till May 3 to stem off the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus disease.
The Delhi government on Friday asked private schools in the city not to charge parents any fee component other than tuition fees till the reopening of the institutes that are closed due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak and the lockdown prompted by it.
At a press conference, Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia said private schools will not be allowed to increase fees without the government’s permission, while asking these institutes not to charge three months’ tuition fees at a time.
“We have got several complaints about schools hiking fees and also levying charges for transport, which is not even being utilised during the lockdown...Schools also cannot charge beyond the tuition fee,” Sisodia said.
Watch | Delhi govt warns private schools over fee hike, issues guidelines for lockdown
He said the rule will be applicable to all schools, irrespective of if an institute is built on government land or private land.
“No school can charge three months’ tuition fee (at a time), the fee has to be collected monthly,” he said.
Sisodia also said private schools cannot deny students access to online classes in case parents are not able to pay fees during the lockdown, which has brought the economy to a standstill.
Though schools and colleges are closed, they are allowed to conduct online classes to stick to the academic calendar.
An umbrella group of around 400 private schools partly welcomed the Delhi government’s directive. “We agree with the government’s decision of not charging transport fee during the lockdown. And also, schools are in agreement with the payment of the fees on a monthly basis,” said SK Bhattacharya, president of The Action Committee of Private Unaided Recognised Schools in Delhi.
“However, we don’t agree with the decision of not charging the annual amount because majority of the schools have fixed expenditures that cannot be met without the annual charges. We can also take the annual charges in instalments,” he said.
The annual fee is a sum schools charge parents over and above the tuition fee, and generally use it for the maintenance of electricity, water and other essentials on the campus. While majority of schools charge it once a year, some take the payment half-yearly or quarterly.
Soon after Sisodia’s press conference, the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) issued a notice to this effect to private schools, directing them not to charge parents any other component than the tuition fee.
“No fee, except tuition fee, shall be charged from parents, till further orders. Heads of the schools shall not demand and collect tuition fees from parents on a quarterly basis. The fee shall be collected on a monthly basis,” the order said.
“The schools shall, in no case, deny access to online education to any student who is unable to pay fees due to financial crises arising out of ongoing lockdown,” it said. DoE further asked schools not to revise the fee structure in the 2020-21 session till further orders.
All private schools are asked not to stop the salaries of their teaching and non-teaching staff members in the name of the unavailability of funds. “Arrange the funds in case any shortfalls from the society or trust running the school,” the DoE order said.