Parents Fume As Private Schools Stop Bus Service

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Srinagar: The decision of Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) to suspend transportation services to the enrolled students has evoked sharp criticism from the parents.

“This is pathetic” says Fameeda Bano, a parent from the HMT area of Srinagar outskirts. A government employee, she said, it will be a herculean task for her to pick and drop her kids every day to school.

“My husband too is a government employee. It’s impossible for us to arrange transport for our kids every day,” she added.

Bano said that her two kids were students at the Delhi Public School, Srinagar.

On Monday, Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) formally asked the parents to arrange to and fro transport facility for their wards after announcing not to ply the school buses owing to government’s alleged callous approach of not resolving the transport charges issue.

Expressing shock over the move, another parent, Shafeeq Ahmad Hajam from Bemina told Kashmir Observer that his daughter, who is enrolled in Doon International School, used to go and come back home in her school bus since years.

“We fail to understand what this fuss is all about? Our kids have already lost a precious year to COVID-19 lockdown. The decision by private schools is unfortunate,” he said.

PSAJK on its part on Monday said that due to the increased financial burden, all the schools have unanimously decided not to ply their buses.

The Association said that all the schools in Kashmir are under financial distress due to the situation of the last two years. “Our schools have not received a majority of fee and regarding transport charges we have had zero collections. On the other hand we continue to pay taxes and incur expenses on maintaining the transport fleet against zero income. This has turned our entire transport sector unviable to operate,” said G N Var president PSAJK.

“In such a situation there has been a unanimous decision by all the private educational institutes that they won’t be able to provide the transport facilities to its students.”

The Association also blamed the government indecision towards the issue of school transportation for the situation.

“There have been repeated requests to the government to take a final decision with regards to transportation fees charged from students. Plus the High Court too had directed the government to take a view on this issue. But till date the government has not taken any call on the subject leaving both students and parents in limbo,” said Var.

“On the other hand the schools continue to pay the salary of drivers and associated staff, pay taxes, insurance and bank instalments. The recurring costs have been continuous and the government has not given any kind of relaxation in taxes or other charges.”

The Association said that it is a reality that both parents and schools have suffered during these trying times but schools had to take a call on the transport facility as this service demands day to day costs to operate. “So for the betterment of all we decided to take the school buses off the roads as the government has least bothered to take any decision,” said Var.

The Association asked the parents of the students to arrange the transport facility for their wards on their own from and towards the schools. “We welcome the opening of schools and will be following every SOP to keep all the children and staff safe and healthy,” said Var. “But for bringing and taking students from the schools parents should make suitable arrangements and save themselves from last minute hassle”.

Despite repeated attempts, Director School Education Kashmir, (DESK), Mohammed Youns Malik didn’t receive the calls for his comments.

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