New Delhi: The Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for more than a year now and it has given major setbacks to a lot of sectors. One of the most affected industries to be hit by the pandemic is the education industry as it confined students within the walls of their homes and forced them to shift to online classes.
Just as the situation seemed to improve and students and teachers started returning to schools, the virus started to spread its wings once again pushing the students back in front of their screens.
As the online classes have started once again, parents and students have been facing issues like unnecessary charges in school fees and imposition of things like wearing uniforms during classes. In the wake of the same, CitySpidey spoke to Aparajita Gautam, President of Delhi Parents’ Association. She discussed the problems faced by parents and how the schools have been violating the guidelines of the government.
The pandemic brought with it economic setbacks for a lot of people and thus it became difficult for parents to submit huge amounts of school fees, especially when schools asked for advance fees of three months. Also, now the schools have come up with a new proposition of making students wear uniform in online classes in the name of discipline and making it mandatory as well.
While talking about it, Gautam was of the view that it is completely unethical and wrong. She said that the government had declared guidelines like to charge only one month fee at a time and charges like annual charges are optional and shouldn’t be charged, but schools have been violating them and no one is doing anything about it.
On being asked about what steps have been taken to counter this problem, she said that a mass mailing campaign was launched which forced the government to introduce said guidelines. She specifically laid emphasis on the importance of parents’ unity at such times by saying, “Parents’ unity is very important when something like this happens. If all parents are together and of the same view, the school administrations have no option but to listen to you.”
For making the parents aware, Gautam talked about the charges which are optional and parents need not pay them if they choose not to, like that of transport, school magazines and newsletters and other such additional facilities. She said that the schools include such charges in overall fees as parents aren’t aware about the same.
There was one more concern of children being suspended from the online classes as a result of their fees not being submitted. When Gautam received such complaints, she asked the parents to go to the Delhi Commission of Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), which has the authority to take necessary action against such practices. Sadly, DCPCR didn’t take any action against any school and tried to reach a compromise with the parents.
According to Gautam, now parents have nowhere to go for help as nobody even remotely comes forward to help them.
Gautam also questioned the government asking why no government official is ready to meet the parents while they can hold party meetings and do campaigns and rallies even when the Disaster Management Act has been imposed in Delhi. She also said that the government was careless when the second wave of Covid hit India and opening schools at that time was not a good idea.
On the question of how to tackle with schools charging annual and development fees, Gautam said that parents need to work in unity and say no, and must ask schools for an approval document under which they are charging such fees.
Ending the discussion with a hope that the authorities will listen to the plea of parents, CitySpidey urges all parents to not lose hope in such circumstances.