Amid pandemic, Ganderbal pvt school arbitrarily hikes tuition fee

Parents of students enrolled at Radiant Public School, Nagbal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Tuesday complained against the school management for arbitrarily hiking the tuition fee by nearly 25 percent even though educational institutions in Kashmir have largely remained closed for almost two years now.

The parents complained that the school was charging a monthly tuition fee of Rs 1850 from students enrolled in Junior Kindergarten (JKG) for past one year, which has now been enhanced by Rs 457 from the current month, a hike of 24.7 percent leaving parents high and dry.

“I use to clear the dues on a monthly basis. Today I was surprised to see the hike in the fee by Rs 457 which has been included under the head of ‘annual charges’,” said a parent whose kid is a KG student at the school.

Notably the arbitrary hike comes at a time when the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the educational institutions must reduce fees as their running costs have come down with various facilities provided on campus remaining closed courtesy COVID-19 lockdown.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said the management of educational institutions should be sensitive to the problems faced by people due to the pandemic and take steps to provide help to students and their parents in these harsh times.

The Court also maintained that insisting on payment for facilities not provided to students would amount to profiteering which must be avoided by the schools.

“But the schools here are charging the amount for the facilities which are not used by the students during the closure period,” the parent at Radiant Public School said.

He said the annual charges, the head the school has hiked the fee under, are collected from the parents for the maintenance of the facilities availed by their kids in schools during the academic session.

“But the schools are closed as of now so why should we pay the amount for maintenance of the facilities which our kids don’t use?” he questioned.

The school management while acknowledging the enhancement in the fee, said the hike was “made to collect the assignment charges from the students”.

“Since the school is closed for offline activities so we are providing assignments to the students during the lockdown period. Obviously they have to pay some amount as printing charges of the assignment,” a school functionary, who didn’t prefer to come on record by name, said.

The online records of the school as checked by Greater Kashmir however refute the official’s claim as the Rs 457 hike has indeed been made under the head of ‘Annual Charge’ rather than any assignments.

Chairman of the School Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) Justice (retd) Muzaffar Hussain Attar said the issue will be looked into and appropriate action will be taken.

“We will ensure that laws are followed by all concerned,” he added.