Directorate of school education, Kashmir, has finally woken up and served notices to nine top private schools for compelling parents to pay miscellaneous charges in violation of government guidelines.
For the last many weeks, parents have been knocking on every door seeking redressal of grievances. Schools have been using arm-twisting measures to force parents to pay different charges. Schools have been using different coercive measures to force parents into submission. As a result, most parents end up paying the charges to secure the future of their wards.
A delegation of the Parents Association of Private Schools approached the directorate of education and apprised the officials about the situation. Parents said schools are not only forcing them to clear unpaid dues but also pressurizing them to pay annual and bus fees.
According to the government order, only tuition fees shall be charged from the students on a monthly basis instead of a quarterly basis for the lockdown period. No fee hike shall be made during the academic session 2020-21. Annual fee, if any can be charged monthly on a pro-rata basis after schools reopen. No school shall deny access to online education material/Classes/ continuous assessment to poor deserving students unable to pay school fees due to prevailing situation.
However, schools are flouting the order at will. Some schools even physically remove parents if they refuse to give in to their unjust demands. Belatedly, the directorate of school education, Kashmir, (DSEK) has acted against nine schools. The department has impressed upon all recognized private schools to stop charging miscellaneous charges for 2019-20 and 2020-21. Schools have been asked to charge only tuition fees approved by the Fee Fixation Committee. In case any school flouts the order, strict action shall be initiated. It includes de-recognition of the school in terms of standing norms without further intimation.
It is not an issue of only nine schools. Scores of educational institutions use different tactics to harass parents and students.
In May, the Supreme Court directed private unaided schools in Rajasthan to provide a 15 percent fee concession to students. The court reckoned that schools must have saved at least 15 percent in view of unutilized facilities, and hence, they have to give a deduction in annual school fees to that extent. The court said the schools “must willingly and proactively” reduce the fees.
The verdict came after Private School Managements of Rajasthan approached the Supreme Court challenging the government order seeking deferring school fee collection in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.
Parents’ associations in Jammu and Kashmir were quick to welcome the verdict and demanded that the order should be implemented in the union territory as well.
Kashmir has seen back-to-back lockdowns since August 5, 2019. Education became the first casualty post abrogation of Article 370. Parents have been striving hard to get some fee concession. Alas! Their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Since the government has woken up now, it should tighten noose around the erring schools. Not only derecognition, but the schools should be blacklisted.