The recent order by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to private schools warning them against hiking fees for the next academic year has come as a relief for worried parents. However, many expressed doubts over the implementation of the order in its true spirit.
The government has ordered all private schools not to hike any fee for the upcoming academic year 2020-2021. Schools were also told not to force parents to pay the annual fee in one go or term-wise but collect it only on a monthly basis. Schools are allowed to collect only the tuition fee, none of the additional fees should be collected whatsoever.
Any violation in this regard by private schools can be reported through Dial 100, the Chief Minister said in his press conference on Sunday.
While welcoming the statement, parents in Hyderabad raised concerns over the implementation of the orders. They point out that there were similar orders from the government in 2018, but later the managements of private schools had gone to the Telangana High Court and secured a stay order.
Several parents say that since the lockdown began they have received messages and mails from schools asking them to clear the first term fee for the next academic year.
One of the parents told TNM on the condition of anonymity, â€śSchools have even asked all of us to pay for uniform, books and stationery for the new academic year in advance by April 10. However, now the CM has ordered that apart from tuition fee none of the other additional fees should be collected. But we donâ€™t know how our schools would consider it.â€ť
â€śWe hope all the private schools abide by the order. If so it would be a great relief for us during this lockdown period,â€ť the parent added.
Speaking to TNM, Ashish Naredi from the Hyderabad Schools Parents Association (HSPA) said, â€śWe have no doubts about the noble intention of the government and the Chief Minister, but we are unable to ignore the previous bitter experience wherein similar orders issued by the government were stopped by the powerful lobby of schools and our never-ending judicial process.â€ť
HSPA released an official note that stated: â€śIt may be noted that the govt. of Telangana had issued a similar order on January 4, 2018, ordering schools to withhold fee hikes for the academic year 2018-19. Those orders were promptly challenged in High Court by the private schools, then the Court issued a stay order.â€ť (sic)
Though HSPA has been continuously pleading the case with both the government and the court, they say it has been to no avail.
In a recent development, the High Court finally heard the HSPA case in March 2020 after two full years and ordered the state government to come up with a comprehensive policy on school fee regulation by April 4, 2020. However due to the COVID-19 lockdown situation, there has been no development in the issue.
To strengthen the order, parents are requesting the government to take measures to oppose any move by the schools to approach courts like the last time. They have also appealed to the government to come up with a comprehensive policy for school fee regulation, as has been ordered by the High Court.