Srinagar: Brazenly flouting government orders, private schools in Kashmir have resorted to blackmailing by demanding transport charges and annual fees before declaring the results.
The government had directed private schools to charge only tuition fees for the lockdown period. All educational institutions were barred from charging transport and other fees.
Several parents, however, said that many private schools have demanded annual and transport fees.
“The private schools are demanding annual charges along with the tuition fee. There is no check from the government due to which parents have no other option but to pay a hefty sum,” said Shabir Ahmad, parent of a student enrolled in one of the valley’s top schools.
Similar concerns were expressed by the parents whose children are enrolled in tier-II private schools in Kashmir.
“There is a sudden spike in the tuition fee. Schools have included miscellaneous charges in the monthly fee. We haven’t earned enough for the entire year due to the lockdown. Many are considering admitting their children in government-run schools,” said another parent, who wished not to be named.
Many parents alleged that the schools have withheld the report cards of the children whose parents failed to pay the hefty tuition fee.
“Some days back I went to the school to collect the marks-sheet of my child, but they clearly denied and asked me to clear the dues first. The government needs to intervene so that children won’t suffer during these testing times,” Nazir Ahmad a parent of class 6th student.
Parents Association of Private Schools (PAPS), Kashmir said that they have informed the government about blackmailing and ‘overcharging’ by the private schools.
“We have received numerous calls from parents that private schools are charging annual and transport fees. Even those who paid transport fee earlier are not being refunded. We have contacted Advisor to the Governor RR Bhavnagar and Director School Education, who assured that they will look into the issue,” said Asma Goni, Convenor PAPS.
Goni said that many schools have charged transport fees despite the fact that no such service was availed by the students. “We have received calls from distressed parents about transport fees being charged by schools. This is sheer insensitivity on part of school administrations. People have already suffered due to the lockdown, “she said.
An official from the education department said parents should contact them in case they are being fleeced.
“We have given phone numbers. Parents can register their grievances. We assure them that strict action will be taken against the erring schools,” he said.