AT A time when several schools and parents are at loggerheads over payment of fee, two small, low-budget schools in Ludhiana have not only waived their fee for two months to lessen the burden on students’ families, but are also conducting free online classes.
Parkash Memorial School and Red Rose Model Senior Secondary School have both issued circulars to parents declaring that they won’t have to pay fee for April and May.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Vinu Verma, principal, Red Rose Model Senior Secondary School, Rishi Nagar, said that most of the children coming to their school are from financially weaker families with parents working as labourers, daily wagers etc., who were apprehensive about continuing online studies thinking they have to pay fees for it. “Ours is a low-budget school associated with the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB). When we started giving our students online assignments and classes, parents were apprehensive about them. They were unable to afford school fee due to lockdown and had stopped responding to online classes thinking they have to pay fee for it. So it has been decided by the management that admission and tuition fee will be waived for two months. Online classes will continue free of cost for all students,” said Verma.
The school has waived off fee for two months for around 900 students studying at both its branches — Rishi Nagar (Tibba Road) and Adarsh Nagar (Samrala Chowk). Asked about salaries of teachers, Verma said, “The decision has been taken only after consulting entire staff. Our teachers have agreed that it is important to ensure that students from financially weaker backgrounds don’t leave their studies. We will pay teachers whatever we can manage. Our fee was already was very nominal but some parents can’t afford that too in current times.”
“Parents are calling us to say thank you for this decision. Some were planning to discontinue schooling of their children as they had no money to pay fee. Now they will continue with online classes,” said Verma.
Similarly, another low-budget school affiliated with PSEB has also sent out a moving message to parents of its students.
The circular issued by the principal of Parkash Memorial School, street number 3, Janakpuri, said: “Corona ke kaaran desh iss samay bade kathin samay se guzar raha hai. Iss mushkil samay mein hum aur hamara staff aapke saath hain. Tatha bachon ke bhavishya ke baare mein chintit hain. Isliye humne faisla kia hai ki sabhi bachhon se April tatha May ki fees nahi li jayegi. Bachhon ki online study pehle ki tarah jaari rahegi. Aasha hai ki school bhi jaldi shuru ho jayenge. Bachhon ko copy tatha kitaabein zaroor lekar de taaki veh padhai mein peeche na reh jaayein. (The country is going through tough times due to coronavirus. We stand with you in these tough times. We are also worried about the future of our children. So it has been decided that no fee will be charged from all students for April and May. Their online studies will continue like before. We hope that schools are reopened soon. Please do buy notebooks and books for your children so that they do not lag behind)”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Savita Bhatheja, vice-principal of the school, said they just have 450 children in classes I to X, coming from financially weaker families. Most of their parents work as labourers. “Our fee is already very low such as Rs 400-500 per month and Rs 100 for admission, but most parents cannot afford that too. When we started giving online classes via WhatsApp and other apps to children, parents were apprehensive and asked if they have to pay for it. Had we not waived the fee, most children would have discontinued schooling as their parents weren’t earning due to lockdown. Now they are very happy. Our teachers are supporting us in this decision,” she said.
Punjab School Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla had ordered that in view of the pandemic, private unaided schools can only charge ‘tuition fee’ from parents and that too only those schools which were offering online classes. A written order in this regard was passed by the director public instructions (secondary education), Punjab. Later, the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowed private schools to charge 70 per cent of the total school fee from parents and also allowed schools to collect admission fee in two installments.
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