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Private schools in Bihar withhold salaries of teachers, cite low fee collection

While the government's order to private schools for waiving fees for the months of March and April brought some respite to parents, scores of teaching and non-teaching staff in the state capital are facing the fallout of the order as they have been denied full salary this month.

The authorities of several private schools cited low fee collection this month as the reason behind the pay cuts. Some schools have even asked their employees to wait for their salaries till additional fund is arranged.

A TGT science teacher complained that half amount of his salary has been denied by the school despite engaging in online classes. He said, "I had worked till March 19 as school was open. After lockdown, the school management engaged all teachers in preparing online study materials and lectures. However, I received only 50% of my salary." A PGT teacher of English said that he received 40% of his salary adding that the school management promised him to pay the remaining amount by April-end.

Another PRT teacher said the school management has been keeping a mum on payment of employees. She said, "School has not released the salary of March yet, despite working for 15 days. I am doubtful that the school may deny salary of April implying zero working day owing to the lockdown." HT has deliberately not disclosed the identity of teachers to protect their interests. On the other hand, principal of a private school, pleading anonymity, said, "Due to low fees collection and very few new admissions, the school is facing financial constraint. The school management has withheld a certain amount of employees with handsome salary in order to pay non-teaching staff. However, the arrear amount would be released in the upcoming month, depending upon financial condition of the school."

On April 13, the state education department instructed all private schools not to take any fee, including transportation charges, for the lockdown period of March and April. However, schools conducting online classes have been allowed to charge tuition fee.

Following the government's decision, Private Schools and Children Welfare Association (PSCWA) wrote to the chief minister on April 14 to reconsider the fee waiver decision. Shamael Ahmad, national president of PSCWA, said, "The private school owners are having a tough time in paying hundreds of their employees without any income. Apart from teachers, the school needs to pay to their non-teaching staffs and rent as well. Without fees collection, meeting all expenses would not be possible, especially for small schools."

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