Schools cannot hike fee, charge students for transport, laboratory etc: Bengal govt

The West Bengal government has told all schools in the state not to hike any fee, including tution fee, for the academic year 2020-21 and not to charge students for transport, library, computer laboratory etc.

Schools are closed and students are attending virtual classes since the first nation-wide lockdown was announced in March.

Guardians are regularly staging agitation at private schools, including some prominent ones in Kolkata and the suburbs, alleging that fee under different heads such as transport, school development, laboratory etc are being charged and some of these have also been hiked. A few schools have also been accused of stopping virtual classes for students whose parents did not pay.

In a letter to the heads of all schools in the state, Manish Jain, principal secretary of the school education department, has said students should not be denied the services, including virtual classes, “for want of payment due to financial crisis in the ongoing lockdown period.”

Jain said that some schools did not act on the request the government made in April. He cited directives issued by the Union human resource development ministry on June 26.

Stating that tution fee should not be hiked, Jain has said, “Schools should not charge any fee for the services e.g. transport, library, computer laboratory, sports, extra/co-curricular activities etc not rendered during the lockdown period.”

“Only proportionate charges, against the services rendered to the students, be levied during the period. No new fee should be introduced during the current academic session,” Jain has written.

“Schools should consider the matter of delayed payment, if any, sympathetically,” says the letter.

The principal secretary has asked the schools to send a compliance report in seven days.

“We welcome the government’s move as parents are facing salary cuts and layoffs. I hope the schools will act on this and show a human face,” said Debjani Laha, whose son goes to a well-known school in south Kolkata.

South Point School, the state’s biggest institution in terms of number of students, declared earlier that no fee would be hiked.

On Wednesday, Krishna Damani, trustee, South Point Education Society said, “We have already responded to the government on this earlier and shall ensure full compliance.”