State tourism minister Gautam Deb today urged private schools in and around Siliguri to not go for a fee hike this year, considering the plight of the guardians during the lockdown period.

Mr Deb held a meeting with principals/representatives of various private schools at the Mainak Tourist Lodge here today.

It is alleged that several private schools and colleges have increased their fee-structure, even amid the COVID- 19 crisis, following which both state education minister Partha Chatterjee and state principal secretary of school education, Manish Jain, had taken up the matter. Minister Deb took it a step further today, and enquired if the schools had withdrawn the fee-hike decision.

“As per a letter issued by the state principal secretary, school education, Manish Jain, which was addressed to principals of all private schools on 10 April, the schools should not increase their fees. None of the schools should hike their fees during this grave situation caused by the unprecedented global pandemic, and if any of the guardians delay their payment of fee, the delay in their payment must be considered.

Another matter raised during the meeting was the fare of school buses. The state government has not taken any decision in that direction yet. I will talk to the education minister regarding the matter. I will put forth the directives issued by the education department but I would request everybody to co-operate under the current circumstances as we are all victims of the situation today,” Mr Deb said.

“I had a talk with a number of principals from different schools and they have said that there is no hike recently. The schools that had hiked their fees have also brought those down after the official government notice. Representatives of 55 private schools affiliated to both CBSE and ICSE boards made their presence in the meeting today,” he added.