Hyderabad: In view of the pandemic that has swept the nation, the Reserve Bank of India has deferred EMIs, important exams have been postponed, and house owners have relaxed rent payments for tenants. However, it looks like the schools in the city are unwilling to postpone their fee collection process amid the COVID-19 crisis in the country.
The Hyderabad School Parents Association (HSPA) has alleged that the schools in the state have not only increased the fees but are also insisting on advance payment for the next academic year. According to the association, schools haven’t sent any communication about postponing the fee payment deadlines which, for some schools, have already passed, while for some others the deadlines are approaching.
Reportedly, parents have also started receiving texts from the respective schools about late fees. Some of the schools charge a penalty of Rs. 100 per day for delay in payment. The texts sent to parents by the Mount Litera Zee School in Manikonda reads, "We understand the difficult situations all of us have been facing. However, we request parents who have been receiving salary from their offices to pay the term 1 fee immediately as we need to issue salaries for all our staff members, especially the ayamas, security, and drivers."
Another text received by parents of Glendale Academy students reads, "Dear Parent, Greetings! A gentle reminder to pay the Term 1 fees."
The HSPA has appealed to all schools and the government to urgently issue orders and move the deadline for payment of fees from April to at least June along the lines of the Karnataka government which has already issued a GO asking schools to postpone fee collection. Also, the HSPA has requested schools to not hike the fees for the academic year 2020-21.
A member of HSPA, Pavan, told NewsMeter, "Many governments have ordered schools to not collect the fees, at least till the lockdown is over. Schools should not press for payment of fees and should not impose a penalty on late payment. Those who can pay will pay, but there are several low and middle-income families who cannot pay the fees right now. They should be given some time."
K. Venkat, the joint secretary of HSPA, told NewsMeter, "The schools usually collect fees in advance during the months of April, May. Fees from April to June are to be paid in April itself and the fees for July, August, and September are collected in July. Thus, parents will not only have to cough up increased fees but will also have to pay penalties for not making advance payments even while the schools remain closed. Faced by this dire situation, several parents have approached the HSPA to take up the issue with the government and the school associations. We hope that our Chief Minister will listen to the woes of the parents and make an empathetic call on this issue."
He further said, "Taking note of the fact that Telangana has the highest cost of school education in India, the state High Court, in a case filed by the HSPA, had set a deadline of April 2020 for the government to come up with a comprehensive policy on school fee regulation. We hope that the government will stick to the deadline and not use the Corona virus pandemic as a pretext to further burden the parents."