Now, Gujarat grant-in-aid schools demand property tax waiver

Ahmedabad: Days after Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced property tax waiver for hotels, restaurants, gyms, multiplexes and cinema halls that were closed because of the pandemic, demands for similar relief have come from private grant-in-aid schools.

More than 7,000 grant-in-aid private secondary and higher secondary schools in the State with nearly 5 lakh students have sought property tax waiver and those operating from rented premises have demanded that education cess be exempted.

The Gujarat State School Management Association (GSSMA), which represents the grant-in-aid schools has made a written representation to the Chief Minister for this.

GSSMA president Bhaskar Patel has appealed to Rupani to appreciate the fact that all schools and hostels were closed since the pandemic struck in 2020. Grant-in-aid schools, which have nominal fixed fees, have been finding it difficult to meet their expenses. Similarly, student hostels too have been closed.

Gujarat has a total of 7,180 grant-in-aid schools – 4,380 secondary and 2,800 higher secondary. There are around 10,000 self-financed schools. Besides these, there are around 3,500 government schools, trust-run schools, community schools and those running on not-for-profit basis. All of them have been closed and it doesn’t look possible to reopen them in near future, Patel said.

Referring to the grant-in-aid schools, which are being paid Rs 2,500 per class by the State Government as assistance, Patel said these institutions were unable to meet their regular expenses from these grants. Besides property tax, if the education cess was also removed, these schools could use that money to fund other expenses.

Speaking to Free Press Journal, he said, “Religious places have been exempted from general tax. And schools are temples of learning. So they too should get this benefit,” Patel added in his letter. More than 60% of private schools didn’t get full fees last year.

He said the situation was different in the case of 100% self-financed schools since they managed to “extract 75% of the fees from the parents, while agreeing to waive 25%, but we can’t charge whatever fees and we haven’t been able to get even the nominal fees.”

Patel pointed out that the fee for standard 9 is Rs 60 a month, Rs 70 for standard 10, Rs 80 for 11th and Rs 90 for 12th standards per student. “On the other hand, self-financed schools charge anywhere from Rs 15,000 to Rs 5 lakh; and they have got 75% of it, but not us (grant-in-aid schools),” he added.

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