COVID LOCKDOWN IMPACT | Govt sets up committee for revival of private schools in J&K

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The government Friday constituted a high-level committee for the revival of private educational institutions in Jammu and Kashmir.

The order was issued by the General Administration Department (GAD).

The committee is headed by the Advisor In-charge of School Education and Higher Education department as its chairman while the Administrative Secretary of School and Higher Education department besides a representative of the Finance department would be the members of the committee.

“The representative of the Finance department should not be below the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government,” the order reads.

The committee has been entrusted to examine in detail problems being confronted by private educational institutions in J&K on account of suspension of academic activities owing to COVID19 pandemic restrictions.

“The committee will be serviced by the School Education department and will make appropriate recommendations in the matter within a period of 15 days,” the order reads.

The committee has been constituted at a time when complaints are pouring in against most private schools about “fleecing” parents by charging whopping amount as annual fee besides other tuition fee for the lockdown period.

Greater Kashmir earlier reported that all the top-notch private schools have already collected the annual fee of previous and the current academic session.

In most of the cases, the schools are withholding the assessment sheets of the students whose parents have not cleared the dues including the annual charges.

“The private schools have already collected whole fee and did not provide any relaxation to the parents and the government, instead of addressing the grievances of the parents, is only expressing concern for them,” said Iqbal Ahmad, a parent from Srinagar.

He said the top-notch schools did not face any financial crunch in view of the COVID19 lockdown period as they forcibly collected entire fee from the parents.

The parents said the schools had enhanced annual fee without getting approval from the competent authorities which was charged from them without providing them any receipts.

“There are some economical or budget schools which were badly affected by the COVID19 lockdown and the closure of schools ordered in August 2019 but the government should not have the same yardstick for all the schools,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a parent from Baramulla.

Majority of the “budget schools” faced financial losses due to COVID19 lockdown and are on verge of closure.

The staff in these schools is without salary for the past many months as the schools have not received fee from the parents due to the prevailing situation.

The parents said the government should categorise the schools and, accordingly, take steps for their revival in the interest of the students and the teachers hired in these private educational institutions.

In May, the government decided to provide a one-time financial assistance under the SDRF to private school teachers impacted due to COVID19 lockdown.

The School Education department was asked to explore the possibility of providing one-time financial assistance to the needy private school teachers.

The decision was taken by the then Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu at a meeting that he chaired to review the functioning of the education sector.

“However, nothing was done in this regard and, resultantly, majority of top-notch schools resorted to illegal profiteering,” an official said.

President Private Schools Association J&K (PSAJK) Ghulam Nabi Var said the constitution of the committee was a “delayed relief” for the schools.

“Most of the budget schools have got closed because of the financial loss,” he said.

On the complaints of parents about “fleecing”, Var said the government should transfer the money directly into the account of parents so that they can clear the dues.

“Once the money gets transferred into the accounts of the parents, those who have already paid the fee will utilise it and those who have not will clear the pending dues in schools,” Var said.