Even as the state government in March issued circular directing private schools not to collect fees until the lockdown was lifted, several school managements have continued to collect fees, albeit in installments, citing operation costs for the upcoming academic year and teachers’ salaries.
Some school managements have also declined to roll back fee hikes announced before the lockdown. A May 8 order issued by the state school education department had directed schools not to increase fees.
Forty parents of VIBGYOR High, Airoli, have recently written to the school’s management against the hike in fees. They also sought concessions citing the government resolution. The management, which runs six schools in the city, in its May 19 circular, however, asked parents to pay the fees, in installments, by May 31. Defending the hike, it also stated that the government circular on fee hike rollback was being challenged in the court of law.
When contacted, CEO Manish Rastogi told The Indian Express, “We announced our fees in February itself, whereas the lockdown was announced in March. We have been speaking to parents and have offered them the flexibility of monthly installments and will also announce scholarships for certain students whose parents have been badly hit by the situation. Even though there is a varying degree of impact on parents, more parents this year have been availing the option of paying annual fee compared to last year.”
He added, “We’re uncertain of what the future will cost us, but have to be prepared to have a double set of teachers, buses, and canteen shifts. If academic sessions are held online, we’ll need to give teachers laptops, develop specialised online content, and also train teachers to keep children engaged.”
St Joseph School, Wadala, recently also sent a reminder regarding payment of fees to parents. However, it mentioned that parents can pay the amount after the lockdown is lifted.
In its May 20 circular, Nagpur-based School of Scholars has informed parents that the CBSE-affiliated school will resume classes from June 8. A private and non-aided institution, the school management said it was solely dependent on fees received from students for paying salaries to its staff and managing other expenses. In the letter, it has urged parents to pay the first installment of fees by June 5 as an interim measure.
Girish Pande, member of a statewide association of parents, Jagruk Palak Parishad, said, “Schools are coming into pressure and threatening parents that admission of their wards will be cancelled if they don’t pay fees. Many schools have deployed teachers to extract fees, while some are sending ‘emotional appeals’ to parents.”
Students of deemed universities and other institutions have a similar story to tell. A circular issued by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on April 15 had instructed institutes and colleges under it not to insist on payment of fees, including admission fees, during the lockdown. However, deemed universities do not come under the AICTE’s purview, which means their students have remained out of its protection net.
On May 19, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) asked students to pay fees for the upcoming academic year by June 6.
After this period, students will be charged late fees of Rs 100 per day, it said.
“We have sent emails to the dean regarding our inability to pay the lump-sum fees, but have not heard from him or the management. My family will need to break into our fixed deposits to pay this kind of a sum as we can’t give away all the liquid cash. We fail to understand why the college has been charging the same fees since our entire semester will be conducted online,” said a BBA student of the institute. When approached, a spokesperson of the institute said the management was unavailable for comment.