AS a story in our paper has revealed so many private school teachers have lost their jobs over the past year, while the salaries of those who have been retained have been halved. This despite the fact that the schools are charging full fees from the parents and also 50 percent of the transportation fees. That too, at a time when the logistical cost of running a school has come down to zero. It is true that many parents may not be paying in time as a result of the economic difficulties triggered by the ongoing pandemic. But that hardly means they will not pay in near future. More so, when many schools, some of them very reputed, are almost blackmailing parents into paying the fees by not letting their wards sit in examinations. And while the schools receive the full tuition fees, they are either firing their teachers to reduce their staff, or paying only half the salary to them.
How does one deal with such a situation? It is time the government intervenes in the matter. And to start with, hold an audit of the finances of these institutions as Asghar Samoon has rightly said. This will certainly clear the air as to the ability of these schools to pay to their staff.
As things stand, the private schools in the Valley have created a business model that is least affected by any disruption to the economy. No matter the scale of disruption they charge their fees and as is the case now also fire their staff to make the most of the worst times.
It is nobody’s case that private schools shouldn’t get their fees. They depend on the fees to run their affairs and pay their staff. But it is also true that other than a brief period of a fortnight or so, the schools have been shut. And during this prolonged closure, they have saved on all the expenditures other than the salary of their staff, which some reports have pointed out has often been delayed or reduced. The teachers have delivered online classes and which too haven’t been up to the mark considering the lingering curbs on the internet and the lack of the training of their staff to deliver online lectures. So, the schools can’t charge a full tuition fees, let alone transportation fees for a service they have largely been unable to offer over the past year. Or resort to blackmail to extract it like some elite schools are doing. They are holding online exams and not allowing some students to appear unless their parents pay up. And to top it all, they are also firing their staff. It is time that the government holds them to account.
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