The West Bengal Pradesh Youth Congress Committee (WBPYCC) has written to state education minister Partha Chatterjee and Principal Secretary, School Education, Manish Jain, urging them to issue orders to ensure that private schools do not pressure guardians to pay their children’s tuition fees within 31 July and that schools do not compel guardians to pay 100 percent bus and “other such fees.”
In the letters, the State Secretary of the WBPYCC, Prashant Singhal, has further urged the officials to ensure that schools also do not charge other allied fees like smart classes, electricity, games, automation charges, miscellaneous, computer etc, for the lockdown and “Covid19 period,” as, according to him, students are not availing of these facilities.
According to Mr Singhal, parents and guardians, mainly hailing from the self-employed group (constituting almost 80 percent of the guardians’ fraternity) are facing an uphill task trying to meet the expenses of their wards’ schooling because of the lockdown.
“This letter has reference regarding the compulsions created by private schools to pay fees during the lockdown period as well as steps taken by most of the private schools to increase the tuition and other fees for the Session 2020,” the letters say.
“The school authorities are repeatedly informing the guardians to pay up the fees immediately, failing which fines shall be imposed. Threats of discontinuation of online classes and issue of transfer certificates are also looming large. As of now, guardians with limited and no access to regular income are extremely aggrieved,” they add.
According to the WBPYC, the inaction of a welfare state, “especially in West Bengal,” to take a call on this matter has driven the guardians into a state of despair.
“Can fee hike be initiated by school authorities without the prior permission of the Directorate of School Education? There is a Supreme Court Ruling regarding this. What are the clauses of the NOC which the school authorities must adhere to before granting sanctity to establish a school in West Bengal?
Do schools established under Article 30 (1) as a Minority School have the right to mal-administer? There are many Supreme Court rulings which stop these schools to profiteer (a group of ICSE schools) and strangely enough, our government has failed to act upon this (UP, Delhi, Jharkhand, Uttarkhand, Rajasthan, Orissa etc have instead passed orders to stop this practice),” Mr Singhal claims in the letters.
The letter further claims that “one such school” has been collecting electricity fees of over Rs 80 lakh from guardians annually, while RTI data has showed that only around Rs 198000 is paid annually as power bill.
“The same school sells an Identity Card for Rs 650. There is no enforcement agency to check this. Guardians are compelled to pay up,” the letter adds.
“Notifications issued by the Principal Secretary, State Education Department, dated 10.4.2020 and 22.4.20, are not comprehensive enough to redress the grievances of guardians. Most schools don’t listen to requests,” the letters say.