PUDUKKOTTAI: In a bid to help parents facing financial crisis owing to the pandemic, Gurukulam Nursery and Primary School in Pudukkottai has refrained from collecting fees for the academic years of 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.
Located in Alanjirankadu in Aranthangi, this is one of the few private schools in a predominantly rural area. Sivanesan Kandaiah, correspondent of the school, says he took the decision as most of the parents are daily wage labourers. There are 495 students in the school and the annual fee is about Rs 18,000-20,000.
"In 2019-20 itself, several parents were unable to pay. We were unable to collect almost Rs 15 lakh as fees. The school shut in March 2020, and it wasn't right to demand fees from parents. So, I told them not to pay fees for 2020-2021. This year too, I have not asked for fees. Once the school reopens, I will tell the parents to pay only for the number of days we function," Sivanesan says.
Hailing from a village just a km from Alanjirankadu, Sivanesan (36) started the school in 2015 to provide quality education in the village. He worked in the United States for nine years and earned enough to start the school.
Sivanesan says government schools in villages often are unable to provide good all-round education and this is what prompted him to start the school and help all students growing up in villages.
"All my students learn Karate and Silambam from Standard I. Many have won prizes in the zonal level. As many as 50 students are learning Bharatanatyam," adds Sivanesan.
Waiving fees has been a difficult decision and Sivanesan says it is certainly increasing the debt. "I have mortgaged my wife's jewellery and I am also late in repaying almost Rs 80 lakh. I am unable to pay 40 teaching and non-teaching staff proper salary for the past seven months. I have been paying them Rs 1,000 a month and all my savings are now dry," Sivanesan says.