Hyderabad: Members of the Hyderabad School Parents' Association (HSPA) held a silent protest on 21 November at Hyderabad's Necklace Road against the non-implementation of a government order regarding school fees.
Around 70 parents and representatives from various schools in the city demonstrated to highlight the alleged indifference and callous attitude of schools during the pandemic. Several parents had placards with slogans like 'Tution fees is a lie', 'Want parents votes, Stop the fee loot', '50 per cent fee reduction', 'No School- No fees', 'GO46 Utter failure', and 'Stop Harassing Parents'. One placard had a tweet by the TRS from 2016 asking for votes. It read, "Will frame strict guidelines to regulate fees in corporate and private schools to stop commercialisation of education."
The parents claimed that TRS had made fake promises and had failed to enforce the government order. "If you want our vote, act on our request," they said.
In view of the hardships caused by the lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Telangana Cabinet had passed a resolution on 21 April stating that schools should not increase any kind of fees during the academic year 2020-21 and should collect only tuition fees on monthly basis till further orders. Non-compliance of the order will result in cancellation of school recognition, revoking the No Objection Certificate already granted for affiliation to other boards, and initiation of appropriate action against the school management, it further stated.
However, the city parents alleged that majority of the schools in Hyderabad did not follow the order of the Telangana government despite several requests by the parents. The HSPA claimed that many states in the country have mandated a significant reduction in tuition fees this year but Telangana has not yet formulated such a guideline. It alleged that only five per cent of the schools in Hyderabad have come forward on their own and offered a reasonable fee reduction while 95 per cent of the schools have completely and conveniently ignored GO46.
Seema Agarwal, the vice-president of the HSPA, said, "Several students who failed to pay the fees have been illegally prevented from attending online classes this month. The government has remained tight-lipped after introducing GO46 and despite submitting many representations to education department officials over the months, no action has been taken against the violating schools."
Venkat Sainath K, the joint secretary of HSPA, told NewsMeter, "We request minister KTR to fulfill his poll promises. In 2016, he had promised to curb private school fee loot and the TRS party manifesto had said that if the party wins the GHMC elections it will control the fee loot. However, it has failed miserably. During the pandemic, we demand the government implement District Fee Regulation Committee's (DFRC) recommendations."
Meanwhile, Pavan Reddy, a member of HSPA, told NewsMeter, "It's very sad that parents were forced to hit the roads again despite the pandemic. Schools should have voluntarily reduced the fees. It would have been a win-win situation and parents would have been happy to pay the reduced fee."
He further said, "The school management, however, are continuing their draconian attitude. Some are even filing police cases against the protesting parents. They have no regard for the judicial system and have blatantly ignored the High Court orders. The education authorities are working hand in glove with them. Why would they have any interest in improving the education system when the school mafia sponsors the politicians? Only a competent quasi judicial fee regulatory directly under the HC can solve the problem."