March 4, 2021 7:26:13 pm
Written By Swarna Srikanth
A delegation of the Maharashtra English School Teachers’ Association (MESTA), along with the Maharashtra English School Trustees’ Association, met State School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad on Thursday and requested her not to alter the existing fee structure in private schools.
The state education department had last month decided to set up fee-regulatory committees after receiving several complaints from parents about fee-related issues in private schools.
“The financial condition of teachers and schools is abysmal. The schools need immediate monetary assistance to function and release full salaries to the staff. Any further financial burden on educational institutions will lead to downsizing in schools and also temporary or permanent shutdown of several schools in the state,” said MESTA President Sanjayrao Patil. He added that MESTA members should be included in any regulatory committee formed by the state to ensure fairness in the committee’s decisions.
Patil said the failure to do so would put over 6, 00,000 teachers and 1, 50,000 support staff and their families at risk. In the memorandum, the MESTA also suggested that the state should support teachers in private schools by paying minimum wages, releasing RTE dues, waiving off government taxes and electricity charges for the 2020-21 academic year.
In 2018, the then BJP-led state government had brought in an amendment to the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011, allowing schools to hike fees by up to 15% biannually. Due to the pandemic-induced lockdown, classes shifted to online platforms but the fee structure was not revised on facilities.
The state released a government resolution (GR) on May 8, 2020, stating schools should defer all fee hikes for the new academic year (2020-2021) and must allow parents to pay fees in instalments. The GR was, however, stayed by the Bombay High Court on June 26. It was argued that the government doesn’t hold power to regulate fees of private schools as per the Act. Several schools used provisions under the Act to pressurise parents to pay fees.
“Parents should realise the efforts and pains taken by teachers during the lockdown. They went beyond the call of duty, and like other agencies providing essential services; teachers too should be honoured with the title of Covid Warriors but they have been insulted with massive pay cuts due to non-payment of fees.” Patil added.
He said the association would launch a statewide protest if the state fails to address the concerns of teachers in the next two months.
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