Finding donors, crowdsourcing, teachers paying themselves — various Delhi government school stakeholders are trying to find ways to help the most economically strained students pay their hefty CBSE exam fees before October 15, the final date for schools to send the list of candidates for the board exams.
CBSE exam fees for Class X and XII students were drastically increased last year. The Delhi government had stepped in then, announcing it would pay the complete exam fees for students of government schools. This year, however, it stepped back citing a fund crunch and said fees will have to be collected from students, due to which many families are hard-pressed to pay the amount.
Gunjan Gover, school management committee (SMC) coordinator for Northeast Delhi I district and an SMC member of a girl’s school in Burari, has so far assisted over 15 students in paying their fees — which could start at Rs 1,800 and go up to more than Rs 2,500.
“We have set up a help desk in our school to help parents with admissions. Some parents approached us and said they cannot pay the exam fees. At first, we said there’s nothing we could do to waive the fee and they will have to pay it. But day before yesterday, a visibly distressed family came to the school, and we were moved to contribute Rs 500 each for the fees. Members of other SMCs of schools in areas like Ghonda, Gokalpur and Karawal Nagar have also informed me of other such extremely distressed families. So, between ourselves, we have raised the amount for fees for 12-13 students, and through donors — businesses, NGOs, wealthy relatives — for around five children,” she said.
Principals of schools are also putting together money. A principal of a Northwest Delhi school said they have given an ‘open offer’ to students with regard to the fees.
“By now, around 90% of students have paid their fees. If any child comes forward and says he or she cannot pay, and if their class teacher can verify they are very strained, we will find a way to pay their fees. So far, we found that six students who came forward will be unable to pay. We teachers have put together the amount between ourselves and will use the school’s Pupil Welfare Fund if the need arises,” he said.
At Government Co-ed Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, Rohini, the vice-principal has reached out to her batchmates from her alma mater to help students pay their fees.
“The process of collection is almost over, but the vice-principal and I have put together money for the fees of 10 children, most of whom do not have parents, from our own pockets. Our vice-principal is the alumni of Springdales School and has made an appeal to a group of her batchmates. From that, we have raised funds for two girls, one of whom is an orphan and another whose parents lost work during the lockdown,” said school principal Awadhesh Jha.
Another attempt to crowdfund fees is being made by the All India Parents’ Association, which has sent out appeals on social media and e-mails to ask people to contribute to students’ fees.
“Money has started coming in, but the scale of the problem is very large. A few days ago, three separate people contributed Rs 500 each to me for this purpose but this doesn’t cover the fee of even one student. Whereas, in every school, there are going to be multiple children for whom paying will be very difficult,” said AIPA president Ashok Agarwal.
Even Gunjan Grover said her efforts cannot cater to all reports of distress she is receiving: “The other SMC members and I have limited resources, so we have to prioritise and decide who are the most distressed.”
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