With the Karnataka government order stating that the schools cannot compel parents to pay the fees, the schools are facing a challenging time to pay their staff. Some schools say the government should withdraw the order or parents who can pay during this situation, should come forward and do so. The teachers have started an online petition on change.org addressing the state education minister Suresh Kumar S demanding that the government order issued on March 30 should be withdrawn. The petition started by Teachers Unite has already received support from over 9,000 people. But the government says that the fee that the schools have collected from the previous academic year should help pay the staff teachers for April and May.
Dr Ratna Ghose, head of Capstone School High, Hoskote said the overall well-being of teachers is also important. “When the lockdown was announced, we immediately switched to online classes. The teachers had to reskill themselves to conduct the classes online and prepare online assessment for students. It would be difficult to support them financially during this difficult time if the parents do not pay the fees. The private schools especially depend on the education fees to run the institutions. The government should withdraw the order,” she said. She added that after discussions with teachers, they have come up with some measures to help teachers. “We have requested the teachers to share their comfort level with accepting the payment in a staggered manner. The teachers have agreed for a sustenance amount. But we need support from parents too. We would request parents who can pay, to pay the fees. We are also open to looking at the issues that they are facing at an individual level. We are all in this situation together,” she said.
Some schools have decided not to hike the fees following the order by the government. However, they say, the government should not insist on not collecting the fees and allow parents, those who can, to make the payment. Nooraine Fazal, co-founder and managing trustee of Inventure Academy called the government order unreasonable as most schools are low cost budget schools and do not have surplus. “The high cost budget schools are quite new and have invested highly on infrastructure. The lockdown happened five weeks ago and schools have rolled back fee hike understanding the situation as per the government order. But parents who can afford to pay the fee should be allowed to do so and those who cannot or have faced job loss can show some proof such as bank statement or Income Tax statement and ask for concessions. The government can provide loans on concession with some interest rate so that the opportunity for online learning can be used,” she said.
Saad Sait, executive director, Legacy School and co-founder of Kai Early Years added, “While we remain cognisant of the challenges that could arise due to the uncertainties across the various industries, we are of the opinion that if there were to be an impediment in a school’s ability to collect its fees, this would have a direct bearing on our ability to sustain our existing operations and continue to compensate our teachers and staff fairly in order to provide a quality international education.” He added, “In the event that the lockdown and social distancing mandate continues, we are further enhancing our infrastructure and training capabilities to be able to continue to support our teachers with specific professional development so that they may continue to engage with our children across the grades more meaningfully online.”