In a strongly worded order, the education department has directed that no private school can charge fees under any head other than ‘tuition’ until they physically open, and that any school that has been collecting other charges in the last few months must refund or adjust collection immediately.
The department’s position had been expressed in the Delhi High Court, after which the court stayed the collection of annual and development charges for the month of April by a private school in South Delhi.
In the early days of the nationwide lockdown, the Delhi government had issued an order stating, “No fee, except tuition fee, will be charged from parents during the lockdown period.” This was to be collected on a monthly basis as opposed to in lump sums such as on a quarterly or annual basis. The order had gone on to state: “Annual and development charges can be charged from the parents, on a pro-rata basis, only on a monthly basis after completion of lockdown period.”
While ‘unlockdown’ has been taking place in a phased manner, several schools across the city began charging annual and development charges on a pro-rata basis starting July. The education department stated that it has been receiving complaints about this “not only from parents of the students but also from other corners”.
Coming down heavily on schools, the department, in its order to heads and managers of all recognised private schools, stated, “… such act of the schools is not only in the clear violation of the above said directions… but also an inhumane act on their part keeping in view the prevailing Covid pandemic conditions and long closure of schools. The attention in this regard is invited that these schools are run by trust and charitable societies, hence, as per their Memorandum of Article, are supposed always to keep in mind the charity and providing of education to the students without indulging in profiteering.”
It also stated that the order it has issued in April with regard to fee collection continues to stand because “unlocking stage is still going on in a phased manner, hence complete lockdown is yet to be over and schools are yet to be open for physical classroom learning”.
The new order states that no amount other than tuition fee and no increased tuition fee can be charged by any school, and that if any school which has charged fees under any other head, “the same shall be refunded or adjusted immediately”.
The principal of a West Delhi private school which had begun collecting annual fees on a pro-rata basis from July in addition to tuition fees said that schools cannot cover all their costs with just tuition fees, and staff members will be affected the most.
“Our tuition fees have not been increased for the past five years because of the government’s restrictions and we don’t have any contingency funds left. We don’t just have teacher salaries to take care of — we also have electricity and maintenance charges, installments for our vehicles, taxes. There are huge costs to be met, and unfortunately, the only way schools can adjust is by reducing — or further reducing — teachers’ pay,” she said.
Parents write to Sisodia over fee
Parents of students from Delhi Public School, RK Puram and its two junior branches had written to the education department and education minister Manish Sisodia, complaining about the collection of fees under heads other than ‘tuition’ in the month of August. In an email, which was signed by 135 parents, the complainants claimed the school fee for August was 47% higher than that being collected since April. A parent of a Class XI student said that while she had been charged the tuition fee of Rs 9,100 from April to July, the fee rose to Rs 13,414 in August.
The school’s public relations officer stated that she was not aware of any increase in fee.
Express News Service
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