Parents groups on Sunday protested against the fee hike by a national school chain that runs six schools in Mumbai. Another group of parents and teachers also staged an “online protest” over ban on online classes for primary and pre-primary students.
Several parents of Vibgyor International held an online protest on Zoom against the school management for refusing to roll back the fee hike. Over 400 parents have signed a letter on the issue and sent it to the management. Parents have alleged that the school management has not responded to the emails by the Executive Parents Teachers Association regarding holding discussions on the possibility of lowering fees, as suggested by the state government notification on the matter.
In May, the school education department had released a notification asking schools not to hike fees in the new academic year. It also asked the executive committee of the Parents Teachers Association to review and reduce fees if some resources have remained unused during the lockdown.
Recently, the school sent a circular to parents, which said that books for new academic year can be collected only after showing fee receipts. “This is another way of saying that if you don’t pay fees, your child won’t get basic books. We wish to identify opportunities where an alternative can be worked out regarding the issue of fees since many parents are affected,” said a parent from Airoli branch of the school. Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has also issued a warning to the school to address complaints by the parents.
A spokesperson from the Vibgyor school management said, “The school fees were declared much earlier in consonance with the existing rules and regulations and for the entire tenure of the student’s association with the school which the parents have already agreed to adhere to, without any demur or protest.”
While the school is imparting education to all its students irrespective of payment of fees, the school is not in a financial position to provide the study materials without the corresponding payment as the same has to be simultaneously procured by the school against a substantial cost, the spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, in another “online protest” by several groups of parents and teachers, they took to Twitter on Sunday to oppose the ban on online education by Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka governments. While Maharashtra has banned online education till Class 2, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have banned online classes till Class 5. Parents used the hashtag “right to learn” to oppose the decision.
“As parents, we feel the need for meaningful content and engagement for our children since many of us are not sure when the schools will reopen. Classes by schools also provide some structure to the day for children, who would otherwise watch cartoons on television,” said parent and founder of First Mom’s Club, Ruchita Shah.
Teachers of pre-primary and primary classes also took part in the protest. Rakhee Chhabaria of Teachers Help Teachers told The Indian Express, “We have been receiving several emails of teachers who have either lost jobs or now have nothing to do. They spent their whole summer creating engaging content for online classes. If some students don’t have access to online education, it doesn’t mean the government should ban online teaching altogether.”