COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for every industry. Ever since the lockdown was announced in late-March, in the midst of the most important period for academics, schools, colleges and educational institutes were met with a fierce challenge. Not only the exams got canceled or postponed in some cases, but enrolment of kids to new academic year also took a major hit.
The plight of school and college management impacted directly on the parents of school-going kids. A reputed school in with branches in many cities across India, VIBGYOR came under fire for putting pressure on parents over payment of fees.
Despite a clear order from the government stay fee hikes and be sensitive and not force parents into paying fees, VIBGYOR Group of Schools has hiked fees and issued an ultimatum to pay the fees or face action. It is reported that the school management has hiked 8-10 percent in school fees as it would every year.
"For the small number of parents who have NOT yet paid any fee for this academic year, it will be assumed that you are no longer interested in your ward continuing to study at our school. As a consequence, we will initiate the de-enrolment process for your ward from 13th July 2020, for the academic year 2020-21. In case you still wish to continue, we request you to pay up the dues immediately," a circular dated July 1 issued to the parents said.
IBTimes tried has reached out to the school management for a comment and the response will be duly updated.
Parents protest school's ultimatum
Recently, Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, in a video, informed parents to complain to local authorities if schools demand fee payments. Hundreds have parents have voiced their concerns to the fee hike and being pressurized into paying the annual fees despite the lockdown.
IBTimes spoke to Fathima Waseem, one of the aggrieved parents, who is facing the same issue as many other parents. The mother of class 5 boy in VIBGYOR Bengaluru told us that the management has hiked the school fee by up to 15 percent without any regard to the lockdown. Mrs. Waseem noted that many parents have even filed for a petition against the school for its actions, but the management has obtained a stay order.
"We paid the quarterly fee of Rs 75,000 in February, but then the lockdown happened and classes were suspended. Even now, the online classes are being held for merely a few hours and the fee hike doesn't make sense as the school facilities, campus, electricity is not being used. In fact, even teachers are being paid on an hourly basis, so where is all this demand for fees coming from?" Fathima told IBTimes.
We have reviewed the petition filed by parents and the stay order obtained by the school management. Some parents who'd urged the school management to reduce the fees as half their salaries were deducted due to the economic slowdown led by COVID-19 pandemic, fell on deaf ears.