The Department of Primary and Secondary Education’s decision to allow schools to collect only 70% of the tuition fees charged in the last academic year has not gone down well with private schools. Despite the government saying that fees they will be allowed to collect can cover the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff, managements say otherwise.
“Many parents have not paid this year’s fee or even last year’s amount. So, if a few parents pay 70% of the tuition fees, it will not be sufficient for us to pay our staff their full salary. The government has not even issued an advisory urging parents who had not paid the fees to clear the dues,” said D. Shashi Kumar, general secretary of the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka.
Many school managements had voluntarily slashed fees while others had devised ways to help families of students who were in financial distress.
Mansoor Ali Khan, general secretary, Management of Independent CBSE Schools Association, also expressed disappointment in the “arbitrary decision of the department”. “School managements will challenge this decision in court as the department has not considered the plight of budget schools and their financial health. Many schools will eventually be forced to shut down,” he said.
Many top private schools said they had invested in new infrastructure for online classes. Nooraine Fazal, founder-director of Inventure Academy, said the move was disrespectful to all parents, teachers, and school managements who have worked 24x7 on children’s well-being despite campuses being closed. She also wondered if the government would waive 30% of the taxes or cut school costs accordingly.
However, a small number of schools have welcomed the move. Lokesh Talikatte, State unit president of the Recognised Unaided Private Schools’ Association, Karnataka, said “We do not want to make profit this year and want to ensure that there is continuity in our students’ education.”
B.N. Yogananda, member, Karnataka State Private Schools Parents Associations Coordination Committee, said the parents would withdraw the protest they had scheduled for Sunday.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar said he would discuss with officials on whether admissions to private schools for the 2020–21 academic year, which were temporarily halted, should be reopened now that a decision on fees had been taken. Many parents had pulled out their children from private schools as they were not able to afford to pay fees during the pandemic