Published: 27th January 2021
In Karnataka, parents and schools spar over possible 30% cut in school fee, await Education Minister's decision
Talks are on to reduce fees by up to 30 per cent, applicable across SSLC, CBSE and ICSE boards
All eyes are on Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar's decision on the reduction in school fees, with this academic year almost coming to a close. A decision is likely to be out in the next two days, according to a top source in the education department.
Talks are on to reduce fees by up to 30 per cent, applicable across boards, SSLC, CBSE and ICSE, besides discussions with parents' associations and private school managements, with the latter two pulling in different directions on school fee reduction. Private schools fear that reducing fees will hamper their ability to pay teachers' salaries. General secretary of Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) Shashi Kumar wondered on what basis the government was reducing fees, and which factors would determine the percentage of cut. The 30 per cent reduction will proportionately impact salaries of teachers if 25 per cent fee is reduced, teachers will get only 75 per cent."
Kumar said that if out of school transfer, admission deficits and RTE students are taken into account, the 30 per cent fee reduction would actually come to 43.26 per cent. Parents are not averse to paying teachers’ salaries, and expenditure on actual costs, parents’ associations say. "As exams are drawing close, schools are seeking complete fees, and the government's delay in announcing the fee cut is not helping," said Shakeel M, who represented a parents' forum on the fee issue before Kumar.
Parents said they can pay for legitimate salaries, provided it reaches the staff, but an average 25 per cent of teaching and non-teaching staff have been terminated, and remaining staff are paid an average 50 per cent salary or even less, based on the number of online class hours, which amounts to salary expenditure of merely 37.5 per cent or even less.
Parents feel that 'Term Fee' levied at 10% of tuition fees for extracurricular activities and other “unlawful fee heads” must not be collected, nor for sports, cultural activities, school magazines, library, lab, transport etc, as schools are closed. Special Development Fees, capped at Rs 2,500, must not be collected either.
Parents started an online petition after the State government’s delay on directions to reduce fees. "It's been 10 days since the Commissioner for Public Instruction met parents’ associations. Now, there are phone calls saying if 75% total fee is not cleared by January 31, 2021, children will not be allowed to sit for pre-boards," said another parent, and member of a parents association.