Schools, parents in a tussle over fee structure

Parents say they are finding it difficult to pay as they have faced financial crunch during second wave

School managements and parents are involved in a tussle over the fee structure for the 2021–22 academic year. While school managements are charging a higher fee when compared with that collected in the year when the pandemic hit, parents say they are finding it difficult to pay as they have faced salary cuts or financial losses during the second wave of COVID-19.

Sumana S., mother of a class nine student who studies in a CBSE-affiliated school, said she had not paid the complete fee for the previous academic year. “While our daughter has been promoted to the next grade, she has not got her marks and her report card,” she said.

Another parent, Harish K., whose sons study in a school in north Bengaluru, said he did not want to pay the fee this academic year till the High Court passes an order on the fee structure. “We paid the full fee of the last academic year and were told that we will get a 30% refund on the tuition fee, but the management refused to refund. So we will pay only once the matter is resolved.”

D. Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools, said they had asked schools to collect the fee charged during the 2019–20. “We have told schools not to charge the full computer fee, extra curricular fee and fee under different sub-heads that students may not be using. But schools will have to collect a portion of these fees as many of them will have to clear loans and will incur other expenses,” he said.

In the 2020–21 academic year, the State government issued an order stating that schools can charge 70% of the tuition fee charged for the academic year before the COVID-19 outbreak. They had stated that no other fee can be charged under any other subheads.

Antony Sebastian, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said they had received several complaints pertaining to schools charging fee over and above what was stipulated by the government last year.

Mansoor Ali Khan, member, board of management, DPS Group of Schools, said the matter was sub judice. “We are charging the fee that we charged in the 2019–20 academic year. Many parents have still not paid the fee and we will wait for the court order on this,” he said. He, however, said they had decided to waive the fee for the current academic year as well for parents who were unable to pay the fee due to financial constraints.

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