The Karnataka government had recently asked schools in the state not to hike their fees, despite this, a few schools in Bengaluru have been accused of hiking their fees. Parents also say that some schools are exerting pressure on them to pay the school fees immediately, even though it is uncertain when the schools will be able to function as normal again. They are demanding a hiked fee at a time of uncertainty when salaries and jobs are being cut.
â€śWe have no clue when the schools will reopen. We don't know when we will head back to work. Amidst all this, I received an intimation from the school regarding asking me to pay the fee. How can I pay the school fee when there are so many uncertainties? Besides hiking school fees, these schools have also hiked transport fees and expect us to pay without knowing when schools will start functioning for the academic year 2020-21,â€ť says the petition to roll back the fee hike, which was started by a parent, Prashant Kamat. The petition has 4,216 signatures at the time of writing.
Other parents who spoke to TNM also confirmed that some schools have hiked the transportation charges for the whole year, despite the uncertainty over when classes can resume.
â€śThese schools are also charging a hike in transportation fees even though practically no transportation is happening due to the lockdown that is in place,â€ť said one parent. â€śWe have appealed, and still the school has not responded to our queries.â€ť
A circular from the Department of Public instruction dated 28 April said that â€śprivate schools cannot hike their fees owing to COVID-19, but â€śare free to reduce their fees considering the economic scenario surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.â€ť
VIBGYOR, a popular private school in Bengaluru with several branches in the city, put out a circular in the app about payment of fees on April 5. The school has hiked the fee for most classes. For example, the fee for grade 3 in 2019-2021 was Rs 40,500 admission fee and an additional fee of Rs 1,09,200 to be paid in four instalments of Rs 27,300. This year, it has however been increased to Rs 43,800 admission fee and Rs 1,18,000 as additional fee.
Schools in Karnataka are allowed to hike fees by 15% every year and VIBGYOR had hiked the fees before Karnataka came out with the April 28 notification putting a stop to this in this academic year.
Parents allege that the school is not responding to queries about rolling back the fee hike. Instead, the school has been sending constant reminders about fee payments, they say.
â€śWe have been asked to pay the first instalment, no word on rollback,â€ť a parent said.
VIBGYORâ€™s spokesperson however called the allegation baseless. The spokesperson said, â€ś The allegation is false, baseless and untrue. The school is in compliance with the necessary guidelines issued by the concerned authorities in this regard.â€ť This despite the parents having proof of the fee hike.
One parent of a child studying in Global City International School, speaking on the condition of anonymity said that the school too has hiked fees as is normally allowed, but has not initiated a rollback after the April 28 circular. â€śEven though the notice was sent to the school, they have not responded. We have also raised the issue with the school but did not get any response,â€ť a parent said.
Parents of many other popular private schools in the city told TNM that the schools have hiked fees and are not willing to take it back.
Jagadeesha, the Education Commissioner, speaking to TNM said that the concerned DDPI (Deputy Director of Public Instruction) is empowered to take action on such schools that do not abide by the government. â€śThe school should be made aware of the circular, and if they still donâ€™t comply, they can be taken into account by the DDPI, or parents can send a written complaint to the Commissioner of Education, and strict action will be taken.â€ť