With the Supreme Court dismissing the petition filed by several parents associations seeking waiver and regulation of school fees for three months (April 1 – July 1) during the lockdown, many parents are now planning to approach respective state governments.
Anubha Shrivastava Sahai, president of India Wide Parents Association says as different orders have been issued by state governments, the Supreme Court has directed parents to approach their respective high courts. “The high courts have either upheld or modified the government orders in different states. Some states have allowed schools to collect only tuition fee from parents who can afford to pay and directed schools not to hike fees this year. But many schools still compel parents to pay,” she says adding that many parents are not in a position to pay fees as they have either faced paycuts or lost their jobs.
“We demand the government to conduct an audit of schools. They have the power to do so under the Right to Education Act. Schools charge hefty amounts without any justification or approval from any authority. Many schools have surplus in crores. The school managements say they need to pay salaries to their teachers but when we spoke to teachers, they say they are getting regular pay. Many have been expelled too,” she adds. She says many schools are cutting down their expenditure by clubbing two to three batches of students in one class. “The student teacher ratio should be 1:40 but during online classes, each session has over 100 students. It is high time that governments intervene and conduct audits in their respective states. If they note that the schools are earning profits during this pandemic situation, they should take some action. There is no transparency in how private schools function,” she says.
Meanwhile, many parents in Madhya Pradesh are also planning to approach the education ministry to seek relief from school fee payment. VR Modi, member of Progressive Parents’ Association of MP, says, “We will be submitting a memorandum to the education ministry demanding that the fees for three months be waived off. We would also like to work along with schools to come up with a solution that works the best for all parties. The government should take a call now.”
Earlier, on July 10, the Supreme Court had refused to hear the petition filed by parents associations in nine states – Rajasthan, Odisha, Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. The plea sought direction from the apex court to the Centre and all states to instruct all private schools to charge only proportionate fees based on actual expenditure towards the conduct of the online virtual classes until the commencement of physical classes as parents who are unable to afford to pay school fees during the Covid-19 induced lockdown are facing constant financial and emotional hardships. The petitioners also raised concerns about ‘adverse impact of unregulated online learning’ on students of nursery to class V and higher classes as well.National, News