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COVID-19 blues: One lakh teachers in unaided Kerala schools face bleak future

With the state government directing educational institutions to defer fee collection
for the time being, many private school managements are finding it tough to foot their staff's salary bill.

Published: 04th April 2020 07:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th April 2020 08:01 PM   |  A+A-

Students of St Vincent Colony Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode on a revision spree for their SSLC examination which gets under way from Wednesday | Manu R Mavelil

Image used for representational purpose only (File Photo | Manu R Mavelil, EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ranjitha (name changed), a teacher with a CBSE-affiliated school on the outskirts of the capital, is at her wits’ end as her family budget is about to go for a toss. On Friday, she got a call from the school saying only half her salary would be credited this month.

In the wake of the lockdown, private school managements have tightened their purse strings. They are preempting a possible economic slump in all sectors leading to large-scale default in school fees or even a massive exodus of students to government schools in the upcoming academic year.

"We recently moved into a new house, the EMI of which I share with my husband who runs a book store near the school. Ever since the closure of schools on March 11, the shop has made no revenue. Besides other household expenses, we have to bear the huge cost of medicines for my in-laws and salary for the home nurse. We've no idea how we will manage this month," says the teacher.

Ranjitha is among the nearly one lakh teaching and non-teaching staff working in
close to 1,400 CBSE-affiliated schools across the state. If unaided schools following state syllabus and ICSE-affiliated schools are taken into account, the numbers would be much higher.

Income dries up

With the state government directing educational institutions to defer fee collection
for the time being, many private school managements are finding it tough to foot their staff's salary bill. "CBSE-affiliated schools survive on fees collected from students. Expenses such as monthly salaries of teachers, support staff and other related expenses are met from this collection," said Indira Rajan, chief patron, Council of CBSE Schools, Kerala.

As per rough estimates, CBSE-affiliated schools entail an expense of around Rs 210
crore every month in terms of salary. The next fee collection is due from May. However, managements expect at least a 60 per cent drop in collection, affecting
payment of staff salaries.

Schools approach Centre

The Council of CBSE Schools, Kerala, has submitted a memorandum to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to resolve the crisis. The association with over
1,350 member schools has urged the minister to take up with various banks the
proposal to sanction interest-free soft loans to schools for the next six months
atleast.

"The salary of staff from March to August 2020 may be sanctioned by the respective
branch of the bank, where the school maintains its account, as an interest free loan. The loan can be liquidated once the situation improves and the schools reopen," said the memorandum.

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