Mumbai: Seven months on, no decision on reduction of school fees

The wait for a decision regarding reduction in school fees has continued for more than seven months, said parents of students studying in private-unaided schools who are fighting for reduction in fees considering the financial crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents said the state school education department has not given any direction because the fee reduction matter is being dragged in the Bombay High Court (HC) since June 2020.

Parents of students studying in private-unaided schools have repeatedly staged online protests, written letters to the state school education department and appealed to school managements to reduce fees considering the financial crisis. Vishal Makhija, a parent said, "Our jobs and businesses have witnessed an economic hit. We have been requesting school management to reduce fees to ease the financial burden but, the matter has been dragged to the court."

On the other hand, authorities of private unaided schools said they have provided relaxations in fee payment and concessions to those parents who are genuinely facing a crisis. Rajendra Singh, state president of Federation of Schools Association of Maharashtra (FSAM), said, "We are catering to those parents who are facing a genuine financial crisis. But there are many parents who are delaying payment of fees under the pretext of facing financial difficulties."

The Maharashtra state government had released a government resolution (GR) on May 8, 2020 stating schools should stay all fee hikes for the current academic year 2020-21 and allow parents to pay fees in instalments due to the financial crisis owing to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. In response to this GR, several organisations of private school owners filed a petition against it in the Bombay High Court (HC) following which the court stayed the GR on June 26, 2020.

Since June 26, 23 court hearings have taken place but there has been no final direction on the school fee reduction matter. The case is still being heard in the Bombay HC.

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