In a relief for several families that have struggled economically during the COVID-19 and lockdown, the Calcutta High court on Tuesday ordered all private schools to reduce their tuition fees by 20 percent. The court's order will be binding for all non-government aided schools in the state and the order comes into effect for the 2019-20 session for tuition fees for students.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by the guardians' forum of 145 schools in and around Kolkata, many of who had already approached school managements about their economic difficulties.
In addition to this, the court said that 80% of tuition fees of 2019-2020 is to be taken of. Overhead costs that are not being incurred like laboratory fees, sports fees, and picnic fees should not be charged during this period of the pandemic. In short, schools cannot charge non-academic fees. There will be a 5 percent profit cap for the period of the pandemic.
There have been several job losses and with classes going online, parents of several schools have approached the management about reducing school fees. The burden falls on families where there is more than one child and many schools have not considered such factors as they argued that teacher’s payments too need to be made eventhough classes have gone online.
A three-member committee has been formed to look into grievances related to school fees and if schools do not grant relief as per the special appeals by the guardians. The lawyer appearing for the case argued that there should be no salary hike for school staff and teachers.
The court has also said that no school can deny access to online education due to the issue of fees, which has led to protests in some schools across the state. Parents had argued that since students were not attending school, full fees should not be charged, while schools argued that they needed to pay their staff which led parents to ultimately approach the court.