Students wearing face masks are seen in their classroom.
Students wearing face masks are seen in their classroom.
AFP

Following the demands raised by parents of students studying in private unaided schools to reduce fees, private school unions have stated they have given relaxations in terms of fees but, need funds to survive. Private school leaders said certain additional charges can be waived off but parents should understand that online education has increased costs and will further increase expenditure when schools reopen with safety measures amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rajendra Singh, working president of Independent English Schools Association (IESA) which has 4,340 member schools in Maharashtra, said, "Certain charges such as the library, laboratory, gymkhana, and bus fees can be waived off at the moment considering schools have shifted to online classes. But, parents need to understand we have to pay salaries of teachers and bear costs of software used for online teaching."

Parents who are genuinely financially affected by the lockdown should submit documented proof so that schools can give certain fee relaxations, Singh highlighted. He said, "If parents are financially hit by the lockdown, they should submit necessary documented proof to the school so that we can consider and provide some relaxations. There are some parents who have not paid fees for the last six months, we are then compelled to deny access to online classes to the children because we have to bear certain costs."

The Free Press Journal (FPJ) had reported on October 8 that parents of students of 43 private unaided schools of Mumbai will stage a 'Thali Bajao' nationwide protest on Saturday demanding fee reduction. Bharat Malik of the Private Unaided School Managements Association (PUSMA), said, "Instead of protesting, parents should work with schools in such an unprecedented time of financial crisis to find out a way to provide education to children."

Malik said, "Schools are gradually reopening in different states and very soon, city private unaided schools may reopen too. Once schools reopen, we will have to bear additional costs of maintaining physical distancing norms, installing hand sanitisers, maintaining a high level of hygiene, cleanliness, and safety measures which will add to the cost. Parents should understand it is a matter of survival for the budget schools."

The Bombay High Court (HC) on June 26, 2020, directed considering the difficulties faced by the parents in these testing times, management of the private unaided schools may consider providing the option to students or parents to pay the fee in such instalments as is considered reasonable and also to allow them the option to pay the fee online.

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