New Delhi: For Shubham Bhardwaj, an architect, business is low during the lockdown due to coronavirus and school has sent message for fee payment of his two children.
Similarly, Trisha Bhatia, has written to her daughter’s school to check if the fees can be paid later as she has got a 20 per cent pay cut this month.
Shubham and Trisha are among several other parents who are waiting for government to provide some respite to them by waiving fees, however, schools argue that the classes are already being conducted online and they need to pay salaries to teachers as well.
Adding to the woes are several charges levied by schools including transport and miscellaneous activities including swimming and horse riding, which are not actually being conducted due to lockdown.
Parents in neighbouring Gurgaon and Noida have got some respite in this regard. While Noida administration ordered on Sunday that no educational institution across Noida and Greater Noida can force parents of any student for fees during the COVID-19 lockdown or bar pupils from attending online classes, the Haryana government had last week ordered that all fee collection activities be suspended by schools till the lockdown is over.
“When Gurgaon and Noida can do it, why cannot Delhi schools do the same. The demand must have been addressed by the government while announcing relief package for lockdown,” Bhardwaj told PTI.
A distressed parent shared, “I have to pay Rs 10,000 each for the bus fees for my two kids. It is unfair to charge this amount at a time when the buses are not being used at all by the children”.
The Delhi Parents Association, has also written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, requesting for a moratorium on school fee collection.
“As the income and revenue from small and medium enterprises has already been stopped and the reserve fund has already been used to be utilised to meet out daily needs, it is a very tough time. We request that a moratorium on collection of fees can be declared for at least one quarter or so as an austerity measure in such unprecedented situation of lockdown,” the association said.
According to officials of the Directorate of Education (DoE), a solution is yet to be materialised in this regard and suggestions are being sought from various stakeholders.
“We have been getting messages from parents that fee during the lockdown should be waived but schools say that how will they give salaries, which is also a genuine concern. “The government has actively worked for parents as far as the matters about fees have been concerned but right now it is a tricky situation. If anybody has concrete suggestions about a balanced way out of the situation, we request to share it wit us”, a senior DoE official told PTI.
Private schools, however, believe that the period is not a “holiday” period and the staffers are working as much as they would have in schools.
“We must understand that it is not a vacation period. The job of teachers is even tougher, the classes are going on using different digital modes, assignments and interaction with parents keeps them occupied even through non-school hours. I will be unfair to them to not be paid on time, they have families too,” principal of a private school said. She did not wish to be identified. However, parents argue that big schools definitely can use the surplus amount for such sensitive times and provide relief to parents.
“The government can offer relief in different slabs, there can be different criteria for different schools including high end, medium range and budget schools. We are sure something can be worked out,” a parent said.
The country is in a 21-day lockdown due to coronavirus situation. HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ had on Sunday said, a decision will be taken on reopening of schools and colleges on April 14 after reviewing the situation.
The death toll due to novel coronavirus rose to 109 and the number of cases in the country climbed to 4,067 on Monday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
While the number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 3,666, as many as 291 people were cured and discharged, and one has migrated, it stated. The total number of cases include 65 foreign nationals.