HRD Ministry Postpones School Fees Payment, Guwahati Schools React
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the lockdown till 3rd of May, the Union Home Ministry issued a new set of guidelines to be followed during the lockdown period. A list of instructions has also been issued for lockdown 2.0 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on 15th April. A copy of the same has also been forwarded to all AICTE approved colleges/institutions.
The HRD Ministry had clarified that colleges/institutions should not insist on payment of fees till the ongoing lockdown is lifted and normalcy is restored. Revised guidelines with new timelines will be issued by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in due course. The notice has also directed all educational institutions to display the information on their websites and to communicate the same to the students through email.
Further the HRD Ministry issued instructions against the non-payment of salary and termination of faculty and staff members in the period of lockdown. It clarified that salary and other dues of all members are to be released, and if any lay-offs are made during this period, those are to be withdrawn. The above mentioned instructions are to be strictly followed and a letter in this regard has been issued to the respective Chief Secretaries of all states and union territories.
G Plus checked on the implementation of these rules by a few reputed educational institutions of Guwahati.
Banti Bhuyan, Principal and Trustee Secretary of Faculty Higher Secondary School Amingoan said, “When the lockdown happened we had just given the previous year’s results. Also the re-admission just got started and students were asked to pay online. However, we have not compelled students to pay the same. Hardly a handful of the students have paid their dues. But we are conducting regular online classes. The timelines for the payments have not yet been decided and we have not updated the students as of now. Those who wish to pay can do so.”
Talking about the salaries of the teachers, she added, “We have paid the regular salaries till March and hopefully will be able to pay for April as well. However, nothing can be commented on the same if the situation continues.”
As for Delhi Public School, Guwahati, a guardian informed that the earlier date of re-admission was postponed from 10th April to 30th April due to the 21-day lockdown. But no amendments have been done on the same after the lockdown period got extended. Reportedly, salaries of teachers and staff have been paid accordingly till date and no terminations have been made.
Guardians of Maria’s Public School have alleged that the school has not only raised the re-admission fees two-fold but have also hiked the monthly fees by around Rs. 800 during the period of lockdown. After complaints were made regarding the hike the payment procedure was stopped.
Nellie Ahmed Tanveer, Founder and Managing Trustee of Maria’s Public School said, “We are paying the staff, although a little late. We have asked the guardians to pay the fees, otherwise how are we to make salary payments? But we are not forcing them the guardians.
We would like to take the fees but no pressure on parents is being put. We also have people from economically backward sections who are not able to avail the regular online classes, but we are trying to support them howsoever we can.”
When asked about the fee hike she said, “Whatever they have to pay is given to them beforehand. We do discussions about this in the management committee and abide by that. It is necessary to feel for everybody’s suffering and not arbitrarily deny doing something.” However, Tanveer said the school fees were not hiked.
Anita Verma, Headmistress of Sanskriti The Gurukul said, “The school is not worried about fees and have not even mentioned about payments to the students. All process of admissions and monthly dues will be dealt with accordingly after the lockdown is lifted. Instead we have focused more on providing quality education through online classes to the students. Also the salaries and dues of all faculty and staff members have been paid accordingly and on date.”
“We haven’t started the new scholastic year yet. We are up to date with the salaries of our teachers and the employees. We will be paying them regularly. We will ask the parents to pay the fees at a later time once the situation is normal,” Father Sebastian Mathew, Principal, Don Bosco School, Panbazar.
Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, however said that no instructions regarding the monetary issues of educational institutions have been sent to him. As such no comments were made.
The list of instructions of the HRD Ministry includes certain other points.
It notified against fake news circulation and apart from discouraging believing and circulating fake news, asked people to rely on information published on the websites of MHRD/ UGC/AICTE. Similarly, for other government circulars, official websites of the concerned ministries and departments are to be referred to.
As for the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS), it has been informed that activities for the academic year 2020-21 have been delayed. However, the scheme would be continued as earlier after the lockdown is lifted. A calendar with new timelines regarding the same will be published in the AICTE website in due course.
The Union Ministry has asked institutions to continue with regular online classes during the extended lockdown. A revised academic calendar will be issued by UGC/AICTE subsequently. Regarding the conduct of semester examinations, institutes are asked to peruse the websites of UGC/AICTE regularly as UGC has constituted a committee for recommending the modalities of conduct of examinations, award of marks and passing criteria and directions will be issued accordingly.
For students who need to pursue summer internships are asked to do so from home and those for whom the same is not feasible, this requirement may be fulfilled in December 2020.
As many students might not have access to internet services, colleges and institutions are advised to allow students of other educational institutions also to share their campus internet facilities. Lastly, attendance rules are to be relaxed in the light of lockdown and unavailability of good bandwidth in certain rural areas.
All academic institutions are to adhere to the rules strictly, failing which action will be taken as per prevailing rules.
It has to be mentioned that although the rules had been issued on the 15th April, no proper implementation of the same has been done in Guwahati. Although many educational institutions have not yet collected fees from the students for the lockdown period, reportedly none have issued proper notice about new timelines. Further, many schools are in oblivion regarding the payment of salaries to faculty and staff members in the coming months.