The debate over charging of transport fees by the private schools in Jammu and Kashmir from the school children seems to be a never ending dispute between parents, schools and obviously the government.
The school education department on the recommendations of the Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) last year issued orders for the private schools not to charge the transport fee from the school children during the covid19 lockdown period.
The government ordered that the decision for collecting transport fees from students will be announced later.
The decision was in favour of the parents but it received stiff opposition from the private schools who claimed that they have to pay salary to the bus drivers and conductors besides taking up the maintenance of the school buses.
More than a year has passed but the school education department has failed to clear the air on it which has left the issue lingering, leaving the parents and the school management at a loggerheads.
Few months ago, the FFRC had asked the private schools to submit all the documents related to the school buses of their institutions. The deadline for submitting the documents was extended twice. However, an official said the schools were not cooperating with the committee and have not submitted all the requisite documents.
“The schools were asked to submit the documents of their school transport to ascertain how much loan schools have taken from Banks besides ascertaining the cost of the maintenance incurred by the schools,” the official said. He said majority of the schools are yet to submit the complete documents.
The administrative officer of FFRC said the schools, as of now, have been asked not to charge the transport fee from the students. He said schools were asked to submit the details of transport facilities but majority of the schools have not submitted the documents due to which the issue is still lingering.
“Only presentation convent higher secondary school has submitted all the requisite documents and the committee has resolved their issue regarding collection of transport fee,” an official in FFRC said.
He said the management Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson Higher Secondary school have stopped charging transport fee from the students for the covid-19 lockdown period.
“The Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson schools have uploaded the fee structure on the website but there is no mention of transport fee in it. They are not collecting the bus fee from students for the covid-19 lockdown months,” he said.
The issue of charging of transport fee persists as the government orders or any circular issued regarding the matter remains confined to papers as most of the schools pressurize the parents to clear all types of fees of their children to continue their studies in the concerned schools.
In 2019, the educational institutions remained closed for around five months but the majority of the educational institutions particularly the top notch schools in Srinagar and other districts collected the transport fee from parents. Since March 2020, the schools continue to remain closed due to the outbreak of the covid19. However, the government is yet to come to the conclusion whether parents have to pay the transport fee or not.
Principal Secretary School Education Department, Bishwajit Kumar Singh said no decision can be announced on collection of fee by private schools unless the covid19 restrictions are lifted from the schools.
“Covid19 is not over yet and schools continue to remain closed so no decision can be taken about it at present,” he said.