The Surat District Education office has warned self-financed schools in the district of action, including penalty and cancellation of recognition, if they put pressure on parents to pay fees for the new academic session.
The decision follows a representation by the members of Parents’ Association, Surat, to Surat DEO, HH Rajyaguru, claiming that some of the private schools are pressurising the parents to pay the fees of March, April, and May month of the previous academic year and first three months of the new academic year.
Parents said that due to the lockdown in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, they cannot afford six months’ fees and requested fee waiver for three months of the previous academic year. They also requested more time to pay pay the fees of the new academic year.
Rajyaguru assured parents of action against schools putting pressure to pay the fees. The DEO also told to report about such incidents on 0261-2662902/03 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Umesh Panchal, president of Parents Association, Surat, told The Indian Express, “We received complaints from around 100 parents whose children are studying in self-financed schools and were denied permission to attend online classes. We have demanded fee wavier for three months and more time to pay the fees for the present academic year, probably till September or October.”
The association also requested that the schools be asked to stop online teaching citing that there are several students who do not have smart phones or laptops. “In Karnataka the government has stopped online teaching. In Gujarat also the same BJP is in power and they should suspend online teaching, as many students don’t have internet access,” he added.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the DEO said, “We will talk to the school trustees and request them to give relaxations… But if any parent who is capable of paying the fees doesn’t pay it, we will take action against them also. We don’t want education of any child to suffer without paying fees.”
Dharmesh Pandav (32), a resident of Katargam area and a diamond factory employee, who has three school-going children, said, “Before lockdown, I was earning around Rs 20,000 per month but now it has reduced to Rs 12,000. I have to take care of my aged parents and three children. I have not paid the fees of my three children since March. During the lockdown, we used up all our savings…”
“I have not got my salary for April and May. We haven’t even paid our house rent for three months. At present, the schools are conducting online classes. I have only one mobile phone and its display is broken. How can three children study through using a single mobile phone,” he added.
Mitesh Patel, an autorickshaw driver and resident of Matawadi area in Varachha, echoed similar concerns. His son is a Class 5 student of a self-financed school. “During the lockdown period, I was at home and have not earned a single penny. I sold my wife’s jewellery for survival. Now the school is demanding fees for March, April and May. If I’m not able to pay, I will shift my son to a municipal corporation school,” he said.
President of Self-Financed Schools’ Association, Dipak Rajyaguru, said, “There are around 600 self-financed schools in Surat. During the lockdown, we know that many industries were shut and people were struggling… We are ready to support genuine cases… They have to give a written application to the school trustee and request for relief. Parents can contact me if the school trustee does not accept the application and continue pressurising them for fees. But we will not support those who are able to pay the fees.”
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