The confusion over whether and under which head fees can be charged by private schools for the months when the schools remained closed, is getting murkier by the day. Another dimension has been added to the controversy with some parents alleging that many schools have hiked their tuition fees to get around the state government’s order that they can charge fee only under the ‘Tuition’ head. The MP State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MPCPCR) says it has received many complaints to this effect.
All schools in the state are closed since the second week of March. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced that schools would be allowed to charge only tuition fee from the students. Some schools as also groups of parents moved the Gwalior and Indore benches of the Jabalpur High Court against this order. The two benches gave contradictory judgments. Now, the case is being heard by a two-judge bench of Jabalpur High Court. The next hearing is scheduled for August 10.
Meanwhile, the schools have started online classes and are pressurising the parents to pay fees. Some parents are paying up while others are waiting for the HC judgment. Rumours on social media that the HC has barred schools from charging any fee have added further to the confusion.
Besides, some parents say that the schools are asking them to pay fees under other heads, too. The parents of Pooja, a class 10 student of a leading CBSE school in the city, told Free Press that they have paid Rs 3,600 as tuition fee of their daughter. But they are still getting messages demanding another Rs 4,000 as Annual Fee.
The father of a class nine student in another prominent school said that they have been paying Rs 10,000 per month as tuition fee of their son but the school wants them to pay an additional Rs 19,800 as annual fee. “Once when due to some reason, we could not pay the fee before the deadline, my son was disconnected from the online classes,” said the parent.
Faizal Meer, PRO of DPS said that they have not increased their fee at all. “We are waiting for the HC judgment,” he said. However, even the HC judgment is unlikely to resolve the issue as Gujarat and Haryana HCs have already given contradictory judgments on the matter and ultimately, the Supreme Court may have to take a call on the issue.
‘Other heads merged with tuition fee’
According to Brajesh Chouhan, Member, MPSCPCR, some schools have merged the fee they charged under other heads with tuition fee. “They have added Smart Class, Computer and even annual fee to the tuition fee so that while technically they would be charging only tuition fee but in reality they would be receiving a bigger amount,” he said. While earlier tuition fee formed around 75% of the total fee of many schools, it now forms 90-95%, he said.