Hyderabad, June 11: The Congress party on Thursday demanded that Telangana Government announce a special financial package to provide relief to the parents and managements of private schools across the State.
Addressing a press conference at Gandhi Bhavan, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Spokesperson Syed Nizamuddin, along with Hyderabad City Congress (Minorities Department) Chairman Sameer Waliullah, said that the parents of over 31 lakh children have been facing problem over payment of school fee, including dues for the last academic year 2019-20. Similarly, he said managements of private schools have been facing severe financial crunch due to non-payment of fee since April.
“There are around 11,700 government-recognised private schools employing around 1.50 lakh teachers. As per Socio-Economic Survey – 2020, there are 10,369 private un-aided schools with an enrolment 31,11,211. These schools run on fee and donations collected from students. Almost all schools did not get the fee since April 2020 in addition to the dues for previous months,” Nizamuddin said.
The Congress leader pointed out that the schools depend on fee to pay salaries to the teachers and other non-teaching staff, rent for the building and other expenses. Since not all schools have so much of cash reserves, most of them did not pay salaries to the teachers and other staff since April, he said.
Nizamuddin said that the now many schools have been pressurising the parents to pay the dues for previous academic year 2019-20 and advance fee for 2020-21. Some schools are also forcing the parents to pay for school bus, canteen and other fees which they are calling as mandatory, he said.
“Many schools have launched their own Apps (Mobile/Online Applications) to run Online Classes. The Education Department has not clarified whether such Online Classes have its approval. The school managements have been asking the parents to download those Apps and make their children join Online Classes. But they are forcing them to pay online fee to grant access to those online classes,” he alleged.
The TPCC Spokesperson said that since private schools run on fee, they cannot be expected to waive off the fee. “Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, while addressing a press conference last month, has warned the private schools against any hike in fee this year. But he did not specify how they will function with huge dues and no money to pay salaries or carryout other activities,” he said.
Nizamuddin said that lakhs of parents were in a mental trauma. “Many people have lost jobs, faced huge cut in salaries or suffered losses due to lockdown. They are not in a position to bear any other financial burden. Now they need to take care of food and other expenses, clear their rental dues, pay exorbitant electricity bills and also pay huge school fee for their children. They are also forced to pay for high-speed internet connections to make their children attend Online Classes. Their expenses have increased by manifold but the income has either stopped completely or got reduced,” he said.
Sameer Waliullah explained that both school managements and parents were helpless and their grievances were equally genuine and justified. Therefore, he demanded that the State Government reimburse the fee dues for three months (April – June 2020) to relieve the parents and also to help the school managements who need to pay salaries to their teachers and take care of other expenses.
Further, he demanded that the State Govt direct the managements not to collect advance fee till the re-opening of schools. He said education Dept should issue a clarification on the online classes started by many schools. This should be banned as not all students have computers or smart phones at their homes and they won’t be able to bear the additional burden of high-speech internet at this point of time. This will give rich students an edge over poor students, he said.
The Congress leaders informed that a memorandum in this regard has already been submitted to Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy on Wednesday. They demanded that CM KCR should hold a review meeting by involving both teachers and parents association and come up with a solution. Besides reimbursing fee for the months of April, May & June, State Govt should also waive off electricity and water bills for all private schools to ease their burden, they demanded.