Indignant Parents Complain About Non-Waiver of Bus Fees by Guwahati Schools
To pay or not to pay, waiver or moratorium - parents of school children are confused regarding the payment of fees during the coronavirus lockdown period in the country.
While the government of Assam had directed all educational institutes to waive 50% of their monthly school/college fees for the month of April, many schools have failed to inform their students/parents of the same. Further, schools are continuing to charge miscellaneous fees like meal charges and transport charges.
“There is no clarity. We had read/seen in news about 50% waiver of school fees. However, there has been no intimation from the school in this regard. Schools are still charging miscellaneous fees and we are not sure what has been waived off and what is to be paid,” a Guwahati resident whose two kids study in a private city school informed G Plus.
In the same vein, another parent said, “Let alone waving off the full fee, schools are not even considering any rebate in transportation charges. That’s ridiculous.” Similar concerns were raised by the parent of a class 4 student of Axel Public School who chose to remain anonymous.
“The government had announced for 50% waiver in fees. However, this waiver was only being given to us in tuition fees. The school was charging full amount for transport fees in spite of the children not availing transportation due to lockdown,” she informed G Plus.
However, Axel Public School issued a fresh notice on May 15 stating “Parents will now only pay 50% of the transport fees for the month of April and 75% of the transport fees from May 2020 onwards until school reopens.”
The parents of other private schools like Delhi Public School and National Public School also expressed their plight.
“My son is a student of Class 2 in National Public School. We had paid his school fees for the quarter April-June via a cheque in the month of March, ahead of the lockdown. However, the school failed to deposit the cheque on time which made it bounce. Not only has the bank charged us for the cheque bounce, the school is also charging us Rs 500 extra because of it,” a parent informed G Plus.
She added that the school has charged the full amount for admission fees, tuition fees as well as bus fees. The school authorities have said that a waiver of 50% will be given on tuition fees for the month of April which will be adjusted in the future.
G Plus is in possession of a fee slip which the National Public School, Guwahati sent to a parent. The school has raised full tuition fee, transportation fee, lab fee and annual fee for three months in advance for Rs 78,200.
In Delhi Public School Khanapara, tuition fees have been hiked by Rs 1,800 per quarter despite clear instruction from the state government that there cannot be any increase in school fees due to the ongoing pandemic, claim parents of the school.
“The school has first increased tuition fees for the entire year and then given a waiver of 50% only for the month of April. They are also seeking full amount of transportation fees (Rs 9,900/quarter) although these services are not being availed by the students,” a parent of Delhi Public School Khanapara told G Plus in condition of anonymity.
As most students and guardians do not wish to lose an academic year, they have no choice but to pay the educational institutions.
G Plus tried to get clarity regarding the payment of miscellaneous fees such as that of transportation.
“As of now, the schools have been asked to provide a waiver of 50% only for the month of April. There are no clear guidelines mentioned for bus fees in the notification given to schools. Due to this, schools are charging as per their suitability,” Buli Gogoi, District Elementary Education Officer, told G Plus.
India is under a nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 situation. However, schools and colleges were closed a week before the lockdown was announced. While the lockdown has impacted all citizens immensely, students have been thrust into a state of dilemma. For students who were appearing for their 10th and 12th board examinations, things came to an abrupt halt. Many are yet to finish with all their papers.
To cope with the circumstances and with an aim to keep students connected to academics, schools are conducting online classes. However, a majority of Guwahatians feel that these classes are not proving beneficial for the students.
There are fears among people that online teaching and learning process is giving a free pass to the educational institutes for charging higher fees by showing off their e-learning systems.