CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Wednesday allowed private schools and colleges in the State to collect 35 per cent of the annual fee for the academic year 2020-21. This will be in addition to the 40 per cent fees already permitted to be collected as ordered by the court. Justice N Anand Venkatesh passed the orders after observing that schools were unlikely to be reopened by the end of this year.
The HC, in an order on July 17, had permitted school managements in the State to collect 75 per cent of the fees that was fixed in the previous academic year, for 2020-21. Of this, 40 per cent could be collected as advance fees on or before August 31, and the remaining shall be collected within two months from the date of reopening, the order had said. The court had later extended the deadline for payment of the 40 per cent fees to September 30.
The court, now has granted time till February 28, 2021, for parents to pay the fees, in addition to granting liberty to educational institutions to collect it in instalments by issuing an appropriate circular. While passing the orders on a batch of pleas moved by the institutions challenging the State’s order restraining them from demanding fees, the court also directed authorities to conduct inquiries and initiate appropriate action against those institutions that were alleged to have demanded full payment of fees, violating the earlier order.
‘It is unfair to collect fees till regular classes begin’
During the earlier hearing, the CBSE had informed the court that a total of 32 schools were found to have violated the order, but failed to file any comprehensive report on it, during the hearing on Wednesday. The judge directed the principal secretary of school education to appear before it, if no report was filed by March 1, 2021.
S Arumainathan, president of the Tamil Nadu Students Parents Welfare Association, told TNIE: “It is not fair to collect fees from parents till the classes are physically conducted. There are no infrastructural costs for schools at present, and in turn, it is the parents who are paying for internet, smartphones and laptops for their children’s education.
We recommend that the schools collect only 50 per cent of the fees, in two or three installments.” Meanwhile, private school managements heaved a sigh of relief at the court order. “We welcome the order, but the issue is that a lot of people have not even paid the 40 per cent fees, supposed to have been done by September. The government must first mandate and exert pressure on payment of the 40 per cent fees,” said KR Nandakumar, general secretary of TN Nursery, Primary, Matriculation a n d CBSE Schools Association.