Mumbai

Malvani school waives annual fees of 1,000 students

Friend in need: Principal of Holy Star English High School hands over ration kits to needy parents of students.  

At a time when parents are at loggerheads with the management of private schools over payment of fees, a 35-year-old principal of an English-medium school at Malvani in Malad has waived the annual fees of 1,000 students, amounting to around ₹80 lakh.

Holy Star English High School with 1,500 students charges annual fees of ₹7,000 to ₹8,000 per student till Class 7, and up to ₹10,000 till Class 10. However, several parents have been unable to pay the fees due to joblessness induced by the pandemic.

“When I came to know that parents of about 1,000 students are not in touch with the school, I reached out to the students to know the reason. I understood that they had not paid the fees for the last year (2020-2021) owing to financial issues,” said Hussain Shaikh, the founder, trustee and principal of the school.

“Just because of their inability to pay the fees, parents are stopping their children from pursuing further studies. I was devastated. I discussed this issue with our teachers and we decided to waive the fees of needy students for the whole year,” Mr. Shaikh said, adding, “Whatever I am today is because of the community. The school will survive only if the students and their parents survive.”

Malvani school waives annual fees of 1,000 students

Mr. Shaikh said the remaining 500 students were given high concessions on the fees so that their parents could afford their education. The principal said he got in touch with the needy parents and provided them with ration kits. “Our objective was to ensure that no one went to sleep with an empty stomach,” he said.

“In this slum colony, most people are daily wagers and have a hand-to-mouth existence, with no savings. COVID-19 and lockdowns have worsened their condition. Many have preferred to return to their villages, jeopardising the future of their children,” Mr. Shaikh said.

“Since the school is situated in an area with underprivileged families, many parents drop in every 10 to 15 days seeking financial help. During the first lockdown, I used my savings of ₹8 lakh, which I had set aside for the higher studies of my newborn daughter, to help the community members in one way or another,” Mr. Shaikh said.

Faced with a slump in the school’s finances, Mr. Shaikh mortgaged his wife’s jewellery to pay partial salaries to teachers, run the school, and meet its other liabilities. “Today, of the total 40 teachers, 12 are taking classes. The rest have returned to their villages or could not be retained. The existing teachers have been persuaded to work at half their salary to keep the school running,” he said.

“During this period of hardship and uncertainty, we have to support the students and their parents at any cost. It is a matter of survival for everyone. We are doing this because we have received everything from the community. In good times, the money and the jewellery will be back, but now is the time to stand by those who are in need,” he said.

With financial resources fast depleting and the task of providing affordable education to needy students staring at him, Mr. Shaikh has urged individuals, charities and philanthropists to donate generously to support his endeavour.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 7:39:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/malvani-school-waives-annual-fees-of-1000-students/article35127921.ece

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