Unaided private schools in the state have said that they are not equipped to start the new academic year online, as students have not paid fees.
Three associations--the Private Unaided School Managements Association (PUSMA), Independent English Schools Association(IESA) and Unaided Schools Forum--declared that nearly 60% unaided private schools in Maharashtra are in financial distress and cannot start online teaching.
“In budget private schools, many parents have not paid fees after the state education department issued a circular allowing them to make partial payments. Thus, we are unable to pay our teachers and take care of our basic expenses. How can we provide online education in such a situation”, said Bharat Malik from PUSMA. The association said that nearly 78% of the total private schools in the state are budget schools, which charge up to Rs 15,000 per year.
On May 18, the three associations wrote to the state education department with their grievances but said there has been no response so far. “The decision to come up with government resolutions was taken without consulting all stakeholders. While it is true that parents are facing financial constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools are also struggling to make ends meet. These are also grim times for a lot of teachers who are having difficulties in getting their salaries,” said Rajendra Singh, working president, IESA.
When asked about several big school chains imposing a fee hike even as the government has asked them not to, SC Kedia, secretary of the unaided schools forum said that the hikes were approved before the pandemic. “Due process has been followed while imposing hikes. Schools are offering some concessions to parents facing difficulties but as a whole, they cannot reduce fees because now expenses will increase with sanitisation costs and expenditure towards IT infrastructure for online teaching,” he added.
As per a government resolution (GR) released in May first week, schools cannot hike fees for the academic year 2020-21 and have to allow parents to pay in instalments.