Published: 24th April 2020
Karnataka Government permits private schools to collect fees from some parents during lockdown
The decision had come after various organisatons filed petitions asking the government to revoke its previous order. However, schools can't force parents who can't afford to pay
In what can be called a U-turn by the Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Department, the private schools have been given permission to collect the fee from parents who are willing to pay or afford to pay during this lockdown period. After the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) and a collective called Teachers Unite filed two separate petitions seeking the withdrawal of the government order on March 30, which banned schools from collecting fees.
"Parents who are economically sound and able to pay the fees due (old balance) and parents who plan to retain their children and continue in the same school, such parents who come forward to remit the fees in installments according to their ability," reads the order by Suresh Kumar S, Primary and Secondary Education Minister. "The fees remitted by the parents is to be utilised on a priority basis to disburse the salaries of staff working in the school," it reads.
The petition filed by KAMS a few days ago had mentioned that the teachers are facing too many financial constraints and are not able to pay salaries to their staff members. Hence, the government must allow them to collect the fee. D Shashikumar, Principal and General Secretary, KAMS, said, "We need to pay salaries to our staff members and it becomes extremely difficult to manage. Last month, I was able to give a full salary to my school teaching and non-teaching staff. This month and next month, it is going to be difficult for us. That's why we decided to approach the government and get permission to collect fee."
"School budgets are planned six months in advance. If the fees are not collected, teachers will be forced to take pay cuts or work without pay for a long time," says a member of Teachers Unite. "Along with the Karnataka government's order on March 30, the union government had asked employers to not cut salaries or lay off their employees. This will leave the schools in a fix," adds the teacher, who welcomes the government's order.
However, the notification issued by the Government of Karnataka also mentions that private schools should not force parents who cannot afford to pay fee if their financial condition is not stable. If such incidents are brought to the notice of the government, then strict action will be taken against those schools. Shashikumar and his team have instructed all the private schools about this, "We have told them not to harass or force daily wagers or parents who earn low income to pay fee. This message has been strictly conveyed," he added.
Aside from this, the KAMS has asked the government to clear their RTE dues which amounts to Rs 1,200 crore. Shashikumar said, "If the government pays the RTE dues, then half of the problem of private schools and institutions run by minority organisations will be solved. The government has promised us that they will look into this matter when the situation across the state returns to normal."