The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) has directed the Department of Public Instruction to provide instructions to the concerned cluster/block level, district/divisional level authorities to take necessary action with regard to complaints about collection of fees by private aided and unaided schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing nationwide lockdown. The Commission has also sought action taken report from the Department.
The move comes after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) notified the KSCPCR about complaints/representations it has been receiving from parents/parents’ organisations from across the country regarding the issue directly or indirectly linked to collection of fees by private schools. These complaints/representations include issues such as discontinuation of education (offline/online) for children due to non-payment of fees, schools hiking fee without following adequate procedure, striking off the names of the children and demanding fee waiver during lockdown.
The letter written to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), a copy of which is available with EducationWorld, states that since the lockdown has been imposed by the state, it will be difficult for the distressed parents to pay fees or hiking of fees by schools during this period and would push the concerned parents to economically challenging situation. “The Commission wants to ensure that unnecessary burden is not placed on the parents in respect to the payment of school fees. The education institutions can also provide alternative options to the parents on postponing fees collection for the current academic year (2020-2021) or provide an ample time to pay the fees by the concerned parents,” reads the letter.
Anthony Sebastian, chairperson of the Commission says the school should not compel the parents to pay the fees but those who can afford should pay so that the functioning of the school is not affected. “The parents who cannot afford to pay can speak to the school management and come up with some measures like payments in installment,” he says.
Recently, teachers in Karnataka had started an online petition addressing the state government to withdraw its order stating that the parents should not be compelled to pay the fee. A petitioner had also filed a writ petition at the Delhi High Court requesting the court to pass an order directing schools to suspend the collection of school fees. Noting that there is also a burden on the schools to pay their staff during these months, the High Court held that if there is any specific complaint against any particular school, the parents concerned would be entitled to bring the same to the notice of the Directorate of Education, which shall take steps in accordance with the law.
Also read: Karnataka: Teachers start online petition demanding withdrawal of govt order
Akhila DamodaranNews, States