“You are eating food, aren’t you?” was the question the principal of a private school allegedly asked parents of students after they expressed inability to pay fees, owing to the shutdown of the father’s hospitality business due to the restrictions imposed amid the pandemic.
Ravinder Kumar, whose son studies in class VI and daughter in class X at Shishu Niketan, Sector 43, Chandigarh has been running from pillar to post to get more time for arranging money for the fees.
While the school has not directly ousted the students from their classes, it has added a clause for students for classes 10 and 12, about their appearance in the board exams.
“They have refused to take payment towards the fee for class 10 board examination registration, unless we clear the payment of fee dues as yet,” said Ravinder.
Meanwhile, the last date for the submission of his daughter’s registration for board exams is October 10. “I do not know what to do. I had somehow managed to gather the fee amount for the months of April and May and had made the payment towards the same. I cannot bear the thought of wasting one year of her life,” he said.
Kumar had moved to Chandigarh a few years back, seeking quality education for his children. But soon after he relocated, Kumar lost his job at an insurance company in late 2018. “I was unable to find a job after that and thought of starting my own business. I had recently opened up a business in the hospitality industry with all the savings I had managed over the years. The business died when the lockdown was initiated,” Kumar recounted.
Even though he has taken up a job recently, remuneration has remained inconsistent. “It is a new job and amid the recession we’re in, they have not been making consistent payments. Now whatever comes, it goes towards paying the rent and other bills,” he said.
“When I narrated the whole incident to her, I was shocked to hear her reaction. She plainly questioned me ‘Aap roti nahi khaa rahe ho kya?’” Ravinder said adding, “When I further tried reasoning with her, she asked me to borrow money from relatives or friends and pay for their fees.”
In a recent order issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding payments of school fee, it directed that the schools charge only the tuition fee, that too if they offered online classes on regular basis during the lockdown period.
Citing another discrepancy by the private school, Kumar stated that the private school has “not given the parents any information regarding what would and what would not be considered tuition fee.” Elaborating on this, he said, “They charge a lump sum of around Rs 2500 per child from the parents. They do not provide any breakup of the fee. How do we know what all are they charging us for?”
Several such parents, who have children in these two defining classes have reportedly approached the Director Higher Education and Director Public Instructions (Schools) UT, Rubinderjit Singh Brar, through a parents association.
“A delegation of parents has met with me regarding the matter. We are coordinating with the school to get the specific details into the matter. Action will be taken against the school as per our enquiry,” he said talking to The Indian Express.
Despite attempts, no response was received from the school administration on the matter.
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