New Delhi: Amid the crisis arising out of the spread of the highly infectious novel coronavirus, parents of school-going children are faced with a big issue to deal with — fee hike by private institutes.
Schools in Delhi have increased tuition fees, some by even 35 per cent, causing unrest among parents.
The parents are, therefore, reaching out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) — via social media, by writing open letters and filing online petitions — and requesting them to resolve the issue.
A petition started by Amarpreet Kaur, a Gurugram resident, on change.org, says, “India on the whole is affected by this uncertain period. When companies are planning to announce pay cuts, lay-offs, leave without pay, several big and small businesses are impacted, in such a situation it is okay for school to charge a fee to maintain itself, but hiking the fee is totally unfair and insensitive.
“I request you to regulate the schools all over India and direct the state governments to ensure that there is no hike in this year and schools do not charge for services during this time which they are not providing,” she added in the petition addressed to HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.
As of late Tuesday evening, the petition had more than 34,000 signatures.
The Gujarat government, meanwhile, has asked private schools not to increase fees when the country is facing an unprecedented crisis. No other state has issued such a directive yet.
In the National Capital Region, the Gurugram administration has asked schools in the district not to hike the fees after receiving complaints from parents.
Sanskriti School cites financial difficulty for fee hike
One of the most prominent schools in Delhi — Sanskriti School — has announced massive hike in their annual fees.
The school, through a circular on 30 March, a copy of which is with ThePrint, said, “After DoE (Directorate of Education) audit for the year 2019-20 and the projected budget for 2020-21, the DoE has recently permitted and notified the following increase in fee — 20% for the year 2019-20 (payable from April 2020) and 35% for the year 2020-21 from October 2020”.
The school has cited “financial difficulties” because of increasing the salary of the staff in accordance with the 7th Pay Commission as the reason behind the fee hike.
ThePrint reached Abha Malik, middle-school in-charge of the institute, for a comment, but received no response until the time of publishing this report. Principal Richa Sharma was also contacted via email, and a response is still awaited.
Another prominent school in Delhi, Guru Harkrishan Public School in Greater Kailash, has also hiked its fee by 10 per cent for the 2020-21 session.
“Fee hike at 10 per cent for the year 2020-21. As fee booklets are not printed so there is no breakup of fee… it is a provisional amount, including some percentage of annual charges. Fees will be adjusted after re-opening of schools,” according to a message sent to parents by the school, which has been accessed by ThePrint.
ThePrint reached an official in the school administration via text and phone calls, but is yet to get a response.
The issue of fee hike, though, is not just restricted to Delhi.
A parents’ association in Hyderabad has also complained to the state government, claiming schools in Telangana have increased the fees.
An open letter to PM
A group, called the School Parent Community, wrote an open letter to PM Modi, urging him to look into the matter.
“As parents who rely on incomes from our jobs, we face the distinct possibility of increments being frozen with pay-cuts across the board. For business people, the scenario is pretty much the same,” read the letter.
The letter requested “complete reversal of fee hike” and an “option to pay the fee in installment”.
A Noida resident, who sends her daughter to Sanskriti School, told ThePrint she and her husband are unsure if they will be able to keep their jobs in such uncertain times.
“My husband and I have well-paying private jobs which is why we could send our daughter to an expensive school like Sanskriti, but these are uncertain times, we are not sure if we will be able to keep these jobs in times of such crisis. In such times, it’s very insensitive of the school to effect such a massive hike in the fee,” said the woman, who did not wish to be identified.