VIJAYAWADA: While the State government has delayed reopening of the schools so as not to expose children to the virus, a tussle has, meanwhile, erupted between parents and private school managements over fees. As per the guidelines of the Central and State governments, Andhra Pradesh School Education Regulation and Monitoring Commission (APSERMC) has directed the private school managements in the State to collect fees equivalent to their last year fees, but in instalments.
“We have told them that they cannot increase the fees this year due to the pandemic. Generally every two years or so, the schools are allowed to increase their fees by some percentage. But this year, they have been prohibited from doing so,” APSERMC secretary Sambasiva Reddy told TNIE.
Though the private schools have agreed to the condition, several parents haven’t paid the fees yet. Reason: Why pay the fees when the children are not going to the school. A parent said, “As it is the students are attending only online classes. None of the school resources, apart from the teachers’ time, is being utilised. Then why should we pay the fees? I am not against paying fees. I am ready to pay 50 per cent of tuition fees for the online classes.” He said the government has also directed that no fee is to be collected for conducting online classes.
Due to this, the private school managements are struggling to pay salaries to the teachers. While majority of private schools are not paying a dime to the teachers, a few are managing to pay a small percentage of their salary. “In the absence of regular income, how can we pay the teachers? The parents need to understand that even if their children are not coming to schools, our teachers are taking trouble so that their studies are not affected.
As it is almost half the academic year is over. If the teachers don’t get paid now, how can we encourage them to take online classes? We are managing to give the teachers 15 to 20 per cent of their salaries as a few parents are paying monthly instalments,” B Umashankar, a private school staffer, said. Meanwhile, a few teachers have complained to the commission about non-payment of salaries by a few schools and the APSERMC has issued show-cause notices to them.
Reddy said, “The parents have not understood the directive regarding the fee collection process. They think fees for online classes should not be collected at all. They missed the meaning of the government instruction. We made it clear to private schools that they are not allowed to collect any fee other than the tuition fees, to which they have agreed.”