Several parents in Mumbai are upset with the decision by the government to set up a review committee to suggest amendments to the Fee Regulation Act, 2011. They say while the a 3-month review committee may restructure school fees, the school administration has already started restricting students from attending e-learning classes, if fees are not paid.
“In 2019 a committee was set up to recommend amendments therefore this new committee formation wasn’t needed at all,” says Anubha Sahai, President India Wide Parents Association. “The government has always supported schools’ decisions on fee hike, both in private and aided schools. Parents have lost their jobs and salaries have been cut off due Pandemic,” she adds.
Considering the financial constraints on parents, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat and Delhi have decided to waive off school fees for government schools for 2020. However, Maharashtra is still considering the waiver.
The Parents Association has written to Varsha Gaikwad, the Minister of Education, asking for a suspension of fee hike by both private and government aided schools. Parents’ immediate concern is for the students to attend e-classes, even as they hash out the issue of the fees with the government and school administrations.
“The children whose parents have failed to pay the full-fees are facing discrimination by the teachers in all possible ways, they are locked out of e-classes,” said Tejinder Singh, a parent. “These students cannot log in to the regular batch. Instead of writing emails to parents or contacting directly over the phone the students are reprimanded for fees in front of others . “
Parents also feel that term fees, computer and library fees could have been waived off, to reduce the burden on the families. “The term fees collected by the school is to be used for annual gatherings. Due to the pandemic there weren’t any school gatherings,” Singh adds.
Another parent Munaf Mulla alleged that his daughter has not been given her result by the school as he failed to pay computer fees.
“My daughter studies in standard tenth grade with a government aided school. The school hasn’t given her results of preliminary exams, which are conducted before board examinations,” adds Mulla .
“We are forced to pay property taxes and water charges to the govt local bodies,” says Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee of Saraswati Vidyalaya High School. “The Education department did not intervene in this regard during the pandemic. In our school, we have reduced the fees by 15% percentage.”
Dattatray Jagtap, Director, Secondary and Higher Secondary Education in Maharashtra says every district will have a review committee to deliberate on the Fee Regulation Act.
Varsha Gaikwad, Education Minister did not respond to text messages and phone calls despite repeated attempts.