April 9, 2021 4:04:05 am
Several parents held a protest outside Bhavan Vidyalaya in Sector 15 of Panchkula on Thursday, against the school’s decision to hike its annual fee. They alleged that the school’s tuition fee has been increased by 140 per cent for the year 2021-22.
Senior Congress leaders in Panchkula, such as former Deputy CM Chander Mohan and Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia- who recently lost the MC Mayoral elections to her BJP counterpart Kulbhushan Goyal, also reached the spot and extended their solidarity to the protesters. Mayor Kulbhushan Goyal is one of the trustee members of Bhavan Vidyalaya.
140 per cent increase in tuition fee
Parents, whose wards study at Bhavan Vidyalaya, allege that earlier the school used to charge about Rs 2,500 per month as tuition fee, which has been increased to Rs 5,500 — that adds up to Rs 66,000 per year.
The school, in its defense, sent a notice to the parents, stating that the school charged a total fee of Rs 60,400 in 2019-20 and it has been increased by 8-10 per cent “as regular increment for supporting the cost of living, calculated on fee structure followed during 2019-20 as base year”.
However, parents say that the tuition fee was Rs 28,800 for 2019-20, with other additional charges aggregating to a total of Rs 31,600.
Row over additional charges
Bhavan Vidyalaya, citing an order by the Supreme Court, has decided to charge the total fee including the amount clubbed under additional expenses– for transportation and maintenance, among others– amounting to Rs 31,800.
In a notice to the parents, the school said, “Recently, the Supreme Court in its order has allowed the schools to charge the fee notified in session 2019-20 and has also permitted schools to collect the arrears in six monthly installments (from March to August 2021).”
The school has also denied to issue a Transfer Certificate (TC) to students if their dues are not cleared. Naveen Kumar, whose daughter studies in class V, said, “I have been trying to get a TC issued since March, to move my daughter to another school. We could barely afford the fee earlier but the hiked amount with added expenses comes to a total of Rs 75,000 yearly. At this rate, I do not think I will be able to afford my daughter a private education.”
As per Naveen, he has been asked to clear the dues for the TC.
Congress comes out in support
Local Congress leaders came out in support of the protesting students and parents. Upinder Kaur, speaking to The Indian Express, took a jibe at the ‘beti padhao, beti bachao’ movement of the BJP and said, “On one hand you talk about educating our daughters and youth, while on the other you make education practically non-affordable for most. The BJP workers and leaders, including Kulbhushan Goyal the Mayor are the ones in charge of eluding all kinds of transparency as they club all heads of fee being charged – against government norms- and hike the fee to three quarters of lakh per month.”
Chander Mohan said that he would not allow looting in the name of education. “With no definitive treatment of this epidemic till now, everyone’s life is at risk. This virus is also spreading like wildfire and parents have had to make many kinds of compromises to earn their livelihood. The school has remained inefficient in teaching the wards. The principal along with almost 12-15 staff members themselves remain infected. What is the fee being charged for?” he said.
Several Congress councillors of the city also marked their attendance at the protest on Thursday.