Mumbai: Parents demand fee hike rollback; Powai school clarifies stand

Around 1,000 parents of students studying at Podar International School in Powai that is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have signed a petition seeking withdrawal of the fee hike during the academic year 2021-22 and cut in regular fees due to financial constraints in wake of the Covid-19 situation.

The school authorities said the revised fees was duly approved by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for the academic year 2020-21 as per the Fee Regulation Act (FRA) but was not initiated last year in an attempt to provide relief to parents.

In the letter to the school, parents stated, "The fee for six to eight hours of brick mortar classes with full suite of amenities and activities should not be charged for current two to three hours of online classes. Parents are paying costs incurred towards providing infrastructure for online classes such as laptop, headphone, Wi-Fi internet connection and printer. Schools are saving on costs of electricity, transportation, annual day and sports day."

In response to these concerns, the school said, "Investments have been made by the school in Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and Internet bandwidth to provide hours of classroom teaching virtually to kids."

The parents stated access to the e-portal BetweenUs of the school containing study resources has been blocked due to non-payment of fees. A parent on condition of anonymity said, "When we try to login and access the BetweenUs portal, it shows us a pop-up to complete payment of term 1 fees for 2021-22. Our kids are unable to access e-books and study resources. We are not against paying school fees. But we request the school not to charge the hiked fee amount while we are facing financial losses and pay cuts due to the pandemic."

The parents added, "The fee hike may have been approved by the PTA under normal circumstances in 2020. But currently, we are not in a normal circumstance due to the pandemic. The fee hike should be rolled back and the regular fee amount should be reduced."

Priya Rajwade, principal of the school told FPJ, "No child is being deprived of attending online classes or from interacting with faculty or accessing and submitting assignments. We have not levied any late payment charges, neither last year nor in the current year. The school management has provided additional scholarships to the ward/s of parents who have suffered financial hardships or extreme medical expenses on account of the pandemic. We have provided a monthly EMI facility for the payment of the AY 2021-22 fees at zero cost to the parents."

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