Madhya Pradesh: Parents of primary school children seek clarity over reopening of the schools; payment of fees

BHOPAL: The corona pandemic has landed everyone into a state of dilemma. People seemed to be a lot confused over what will happen next. The sector to be the worst hit, allegedly after the economy, is said to be the educational sector.

Parents are going haywire over the schools charging unreasonable charges. The chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on Saturday, sent out a strong message to the private schools that tough action awaits them if they flout the government directive of charging only tuition fee from the students. Ironically, while smaller schools are following the directive, big, prestigious schools are not doing it.

The parents of primary school children in the city also seeked clarity over the reopening of the schools and the fee they have to pay.

Schools were first ordered close in the second week of March for up to March 31. The latest closure order expires on August 31. However, when will the schools finally reopen is uncertain given the fact that the number of COVID-19 cases is rising by the day.

This situation has left the parents confused. They have demanded that the government should ensure clarity on the twin issues.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced that schools can charge only tuition fees. The Gwalior and Indore benches of the Jabalpur High Court gave contradictory judgments. Now, the case is being heard by a two-judge bench of Jabalpur High Court. The next hearing is scheduled for September 1. Some parents are paying up while others are waiting for the HC judgment. Meanwhile, the schools have started online classes and are pressurising the parents to pay fees.

A homemaker, Mansha Sharma, whose two children study in KG and class 1 respectively told Free Press that the government should clarify whether schools will reopen this year or not so that she can decide whether her children should continue with the online classes. “The online classes are useless. I have to spend four hours helping them. If I have to teach them myself why should I pay fees,” she asks. The total fee of her children comes to around Rs 2 lakh per annum.

Likewise, a government employee, Santosh Maravi, whose son studies in class two, says that the government and the courts should clear the confusion. “My son’s school is asking me to pay fees under heads other than tuition fees. It is least bothered about what the chief minister has announced. In fact, I have been given a long list of the charges I am supposed to clear,” he says.

A homemaker Priyanka Sen says she is very worried about the future of her children who study in grades one and six respectively. She wants the government to take a firm and final decision over the reopening of schools. “After all the future of our children is at stake,” Sen says.

In the same vein, an artist Vandana Nayak whose son studies in grade 1 says she is very confused over whether she has to pay fees because she has heard that the issue is pending in the court. “We are waiting for the judgment,” she says

As per Brajesh Chouhan, Member, MP Commission for Protection of Child Rights, "The chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on Saturday, has sent out a strong message to the private schools that tough action awaits them if they flout the government directive of charging only tuition fee from the students. Ironically, while smaller schools are following the directive, big, prestigious schools are not doing it. We had to personally intervene in at least 300 cases in Bhopal alone where the schools had discontinued online classes for students as they had not deposited fees. We have also disposed of around 400 fee-related complaints. At the same time, I feel that the demand of the parents that even the tuition fee should be waived is unjustified."

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