FOR THE past five days, private schools across Rajasthan have suspended online classes, with school unions claiming that over 50,000 institutions have gone on strike. Their demands include no cuts in tuition fees, payment of reimbursement for admissions under the Right to Education (RTE), and withdrawal of instructions issued on fee collection when schools reopen.
“Over 50,000 private schools across Rajasthan are on strike since November 5 and we have suspended online classes. After the Covid outbreak, the state government had deferred the payment of fees for private schools. The 11 lakh teaching and non-teaching personnel at these schools are in dire financial condition as the schools couldn’t pay them,” said Anil Sharma, president, School Shiksha Pariwar Sanstha, Rajasthan.
On October 23, the Rajasthan High Court had ruled that considering the hardship of private schools, the state government shall issue necessary directions by October 28 regarding interim fees they shall be allowed to charge subject to a final decision.
On October 28, the government said that as long as schools are closed, students will be charged capacity building fees, which would be 60 per cent of tuition fees.
But the government also said that after reopening, CBSE schools could charge only 70 per cent of the total fees that was charged in the last session, and Rajasthan Board schools 60 per cent, due to the reduction in syllabus.
“We demand that the October 28 order by the government be withdrawn immediately and the reimbursement for RTE admissions be paid. When schools reopen, what will be the logic for charging less tuition fees as for us the cost of manpower and other facilities will be the same as it was before the Covid crisis? We also want the government to ensure that students from affluent families or whose parents are government employees, pay the fees so that we can waive off the fees for needy families,” said Sharma.
Meanwhile, parents’ associations have demanded the intervention of the government to ensure that the schools don’t charge excess fees.
“Many schools are charging excess money in the name of online classes. At present, there is no system in place to monitor the quality of online classes. We urge the government to ensure a detailed mechanism about online classes. Moreover, the schools need less infrastructure for online classes and them charging excess money doesn’t make sense. The 60 per cent fee fixed by the government for capacity building classes is not acceptable to us. Due to decreased income in wake of the pandemic we won’t be able to pay excess fees. We also have to arrange for laptops and other gadgets so that the students can take online classes, which is an extra cost,” said Arvind Agarwal, president, Sanyukt Abhibhavak Sangh, a parents’ association.
Speaking at a press conference Sunday, Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra had said action will be taken against schools that don’t conduct online classes despite taking fees for it. The representatives of private schools held talks with the government on Monday, following which they put their plan to take out a protest march on Tuesday on hold.
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