Srinagar, Aug 31: Private schools taking printing charges and asking students to deposit at least 50% of the transport fee have left parents fuming.
The schools in Kashmir have been closed since August 5, 2019, when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and divided it into two union territories. Situation remained uncertain in the Valley till December and when schools reopened briefly in March this year, students were asked to clear the pending dues and also pay the printing charges for the year 2020. After the outbreak of the pandemic schools were closed in March itself and since then these institutions continue to remain shut.
Many parents told Precious Kashmir over phone that besides paying tuition fee they are being forced to pay the half bus fee and the ones who are refusing to do so they are being told that names of their wards will be stuck off.
They said that the printing charges vary from school to school. “These charges are collected every year. And these increase in every new session,” parents added.
They said that since the day pandemic has broken out managements of the private schools have been playing a “victim card.” “In these months many teachers have been laid off and the salary has been slashed despite these institutions collecting the tuition fee,” the parents said.
An owner of the private school said, “We have not sacked the drivers. Besides teachers we are paying the salaries of the non-teaching staff also.”
He said that schools take printing charges for various purposes since the day institutions have been closed study material is being provided to the students through different modes, these modes also include printed material.
Parents said that the government should take a note of how these schools are “minting money” on the name of providing education. “It seems that authorities too have given a freehand to the managements of these schools and are allowing them to do whatever they like.”
They said, “The uncertainty which has prevailed during the past one year has led to many people losing their businesses and jobs, despite that parents have continued to pay the school fee of their children. But these schools have not given any relaxation. The government had passed clear instructions that only the tuition fee should be charged but many institutions have not followed these directions.”
Parents said that they have been raising this issue for a long time now but “no one seems interested” to address it.
Despite repeated calls and text messages, Director School Education Kashmir, Muhammad Younis Malik, could not be contacted. He neither picked up the phone, nor did he respond to any text message.