No school, no fees, say parents

Children have been pulled out from school, says TRSMA

“No school, no fees” was the logic Rajesh used to stop paying school fee for his five-year-old son in Class I in a neighbourhood school in Nalanda Nagar. Countless other parents of children studying budget private schools have taken a similar decision to stay away from online classes and stop paying the fee. The result is a chaotic mess. “In my online class I have only seven students while the class strength is 45. I don’t know whether I should assume the attendance is low or the class strength has dipped,” says a school owner in Hyderabad. In this dilemma of the school owner is the key whether many of the private schools survive the closure of physical classes due to the pandemic and its aftermath.

“Nearly 65% of educational facilities are in the domain of budget private schools where the parents earn between ₹ 20,000 and ₹40,000. Many parents have pulled out their children from schools or have stopped paying the fees,” says Uma Maheswara Rao of Telangana Recognised Schools Management Association (TRSMA).

The Telangana government issued a GO No. 46 that asked the schools to collect only the tuition fee and warned the private institutions against raising the fee or collecting money under other heads.

According to sources, many private schools are on the verge of shutting down unable to bear the rental cost of hired buildings, teacher salaries and stoppage of income from fees. “Schools will shut down. They are not revealing the information as otherwise their dues will get further affected,” says Mr. Rao.

“Parents have taken advantage of the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic and are not paying fees. We conducted online classes but parents didn’t pay the fees, while we had to pay salaries to teachers. Out of a total strength of 900 students, only 220 have paid the fees,” says Arshad Peerzada who runs a school in Toli Chowki area.

While corporate schools and government schools have not been affected as much by the pandemic, the private budget schools will impact the education of a generation. “Some of the teachers have quit and have found alternative sources of income. As our finances remain stressed, a generation of children may find that their academic opportunities have been shut off,” warns Mr. Rao.

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