Punish willful defaulters before fee cut

Maharashtra: Punish willful defaulters before fee cut, ask private schools

July 7, 2021
-Reshma Ravishanker

A large number of private schools in Maharashtra have said that they would “positively consider” the 15 % fee reduction diktat on the condition that the government rolls out an order promising action against willful defaulter parents.

This comes even as the state government is yet to make a formal announcement pertaining to the fee cut. In a media briefing on Tuesday, representatives of the National Independent Schools Alliance in Maharashtra said that it would not be possible to function by allowing a 15 % fee cut that the state is said to have proposed.

Rajendra Singh, State president, Independent English Schools Association, Maharashtra said that in the academic year 2019-20, 18 to 20 % defaulters remained and they had not cleared their dues even before the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. “This is an indication that there is a trend of defaulting. It is not necessarily because of the pandemic,” he said.  

The associations, following a study of their member schools have claimed that even last year (2020-21) only about 50 -70% fee collection happened in private schools which shows a 30% deficit.

Schools have said that although a good number of parents are willful defaulters, a minor percentage of them approached school managements with genuine documents indicating a family’s financial crisis or death or illness due to the pandemic as a reason for being unable to clear the dues. Singh claimed that only 8.3 % of parents had such documents for proof.

“Another 9% did not attend classes in 2021. That shows 18 % fee will not be recovered from last year at all. So whether or not there is a fee cut order, we are already running under losses,” he claimed.

This year (2021-22), the member schools data indicates that  only 14-32 % was recovered. “If the government is proposing a further 15 % cut, such a decision cannot be one-sided,” he said.

These private schools are also seeking government intervention against parents who have a tendency not to pay fees with no genuine concern, have students transferred to nearby Zilla Parishat schools so that the parents can afford the fee and the child has continued education. The schools will not claim the previous year’s pending fee if a student is admitted to a Zilla Parishat school and taken out of private schooling.

“School managements are willing to help parents who are affected by Covid-hospitalization, loss of jobs or financial crisis or demise of the breadwinner. It has become a trend, particularly in Pune, Nagpur and Mumbai where 1.8% of parents create ruckus, stage protests and are pressuring government bodies to issue unlawful orders. Before any official communication is made in regards to a fee cut, the government must understand it is important to remain focussed on education and not make announcements to please the population at large” claimed Singh. 

The schools association has also said that if the education minister Varsha Gaikwad still assumes that the schools are not being reasonable and there is no room for negotiation, then they would surrender the affiliations. The brunt of this is to be borne by students, teachers and non teaching staff. 

Also read: Calcutta High Court permits schools to issue notice to fee defaulters

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