Mumbai

Finding ways to not let school interfere with education

Among the many hit by a cash crunch following demonetisation, students, their parents and school van or bus drivers have their own set of complaints. Students in the educational hub of Navi Mumbai, many of whom have come from other parts of the country, say they depend completely on ATMs where they draw cash deposited by their parents.

While some support the Union government’s move and feel the hardships being faced are a temporary glitch, others are apprehensive that the situation might worsen. Abhijeet M., who is undergoing a course in travel and tourism, says, “I survive on my ATM card.

Ever since demonetisation, I have been short of cash. My father is finding it difficult to make cash deposits in my account due to the long queues. He is not tech-savvy and can’t handle internet banking. He runs a business there and can’t afford to leave work for hours at a time to stand in queue.” Fortunately for the Panvel resident, friends have stepped in to help. “Without them, it would have been really difficult to cope with the course submissions, projects, food and travel,” he adds.

Parents of school-going children are finding it difficult to pay tuition fees and buy stationery. Kavita Jain, whose kids, aged eight and 10, study at Delhi Public School (DPS), Nerul, says, “I have requested tuition teachers and the school-van guy to accept payment via online transfer or cheque. I am offering payment for two months at a time, but they’re still reluctant. I had to request the school van operator for a week before he agreed to take a cheque. Some tuition teachers have agreed to online transfers, but others are still considering it.”

“We had a huge problem with stationery shops, but managed with the piggy bank money. Also, I have this habit of stocking stationery,” Sangeeta Vyas, whose three-year-old child studies at Podar International School, Seawoods, said.

The School Bus Association claims the situation is under control till November 24, with the government extending the date for petrol pumps to accept old currency. “We have called off the strike now, but after November 24, if the situation doesn’t improve, we will stop plying,” Santosh Shetty, adviser, School Bus Owners Association, said.

Pandurang Shinde, a school van driver, added, “I drive vans for DAV Seawoods, DPS and Apeejay schools in Nerul, and parents usually pay the owner in cash. Now, no one has cash. This [demonetisation] move has created problems for us. I usually get paid by the 12th, but am yet to receive my salary this month.”

Schools, which usually accept fees in cash, have waived off late fees for this month and have also started accepting cheques. “For parents’ convenience, we decided to even accept the cheques this month,” Kamlesh Patel, chairman, SS High School and Junior College, Seawoods, said. Mathew George, chairman, St. Mary’s trust that runs St. George School, Kalamboli and St. Mary’s School, Panvel, said, “We have many students from lower-income groups, so we are going slow on the collection of fees.”

“We have decided to go slow on some projects and activities till the [cash] situation normalises somewhat,” a teacher said.

The writer is a freelance journalist

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2020 11:17:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Finding-ways-to-not-let-school-interfere-with-education/article16644525.ece

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