#SupportSchoolsToSustain - SAVE EDUCATION MISSION
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Hon’ble Pradhan Mantri ji,
We salute you for your firm leadership in these difficult times – in fact the most difficult since we became a democracy. Sir, your timely firm decisions have helped India contain the spread of COVID-19 keeping our large population in mind.
But sir, as you will agree the series of lockdowns necessitated to contain the pandemic have stalled the economy.The Finance Ministry and RBI have forecasted a negative growth for our country.
It is in this context that we at Association of Un-Aided Private Schools would like to draw your attention towards the worst hit sector during Covid-19 Pandemic i.e. THE UN-AIDED PRIVATE SCHOOLS. The major reason behind this is that the school premises are closed and children can't go to schools due to the fear of Covid-19.
Across India, private school administrators are a jittery lot. Stories from all over the country report unpaid fees from March onwards. A pan-India survey ‘e-School Readiness Survey’ was conducted in May 2020 and found that over 87% budget private schools in India are facing fee collection challenges. If the economic conditions worsen and parents can’t pay the fees, many private schools will be forced to shut down.
Key Points of Survey
- Overall, 85% respondents affirmed that they were reeling under financial stress on account of their inability to collect fees.
- The reasons cited by schools are ‘Parents not having the income to pay fees due to the lockdown’ (55%); ‘Parent’s not being able to come to school or bank premises to pay fees owing to the lockdown’ (24.5%); ‘Parents receiving salaries late and cannot pay on time’ (12%) and ‘Parents not keen to pay for online classes’ (8.5%)
- More than 72% of the respondents have indicated their willingness to explore digital solutions for school continuity
- Over 37% respondents have already started some sort of remote schooling by sharing educational content via messaging solutions such as WhatsApp.
The consequences of such an eventuality are horrifying. Last year, HRD ministry told Parliament that enrollment in private schools had shot up to 8.3 crore in 2017-18 from 6.9 crore in 2013-14, a 20% increase while government school enrollment dipped to 18.9 crore from 19.9 crore in roughly the same period. A financial crisis is brewing in the private schools sector with several of them struggling to keep afloat and meet the regular expenditure for running because of a steep fall in their income as a result of lockdown.
Most of the states have instructed private school managements not to resort to mandatory nominal fee hike this academic year and collect only monthly fees instead of annual fees at one go. All the schools empathetic to the extraordinary situation complied with the advisory. But now four months later, with lockdown guidelines liberalised and several sectors opening up, the struggle, however, continues for many private schools with mounting fee payment defaults. Most of the private schools even while contending with fall in fee collection, adapted to the online mode from March-April to prevent disruption of academic year.
The Union HRD Ministry instructed that school staff be allowed to work from home and the lockdown should not disrupt education of students.
While parents are happy with online classes, many of them withheld payment of even monthly fee. On the contrary, the children are engaged regularly by teachers through remote learning and are in constant touch to guide and counsel them because teachers are concerned and feel that when the children are locked inside homes they need assistance, love and care. They switched to online teaching, adapting to it very quickly, catering the needs of students even though it was a very tough job for many.
The school management is in a very difficult situation but the worst situation is being faced by the teachers and non-teaching staff because they are not getting paid. As this is directly linked with schools not receiving tuition fee from parents. Many private school management are asking “From where will the private schools mobilise resources and how long can they sustain with huge deficit revenue and still pay EMIs for buses and infrastructure?”
Many schools have decided to accept fees in installments and are not exerting any pressure on any parent to pay the fees. The school management is doing every bit. There is a huge debt on many schools; and many are on the verge of collapsing.
At present Education sector is bleeding due to paucity of monetary resources and Non Payment of School fee by parents. This has caused immense financial strain on private schools, leading them to put on hold salaries to the teaching and non-teaching staff, which is approximately TWO CRORES ACROSS OVER FIVE LAKH PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTRY. The schools are unable to make payments and teachers are facing a bleak and uncertain future.
Amidst this crisis, it is imperative that schools, the government and parents operate in close proximity towards ensuring salaries to teachers and non-teaching staff while simultaneously minimizing the financial impact on parents.
Hence we want RBI to help the private school education sector from crippling down and going bankrupt. There should be a joint force to resolve this issue and the Central Bank has a key role to perform.
The government should come up with relief package or give direct benefit transfer to parents so that the schools continue functioning
We at Association of un-Aided Private Schools suggests a two-point programme through which the education sector can be revived, salaries can be paid to the teachers and support staff, preventing schools across the country from shutting down and ensuring continuity in education.
Firstly, since education is under the priority lending sector, loan benefits provided to other priority sectors should also be extended to the education sector in these times of crisis. RBI should provide interest-free loans to parents to fund their child’s education through direct bank transfer or any mechanism deemed fit by the Governor.
Secondly, similar interest-free loans should also be made available to schools to pay recurring costs such as teacher salaries, overheads, and capital expenditure.
This initiative will reap dividends for the country in the coming years.
We at Association of un-Aided Private Schools are concerned about the well-being of over 4,00,000 schools and 2,00,00,000 teachers and similar number of non-teaching staff and their families across the country. Not to forget the associated businesses with the school education system which employ another 1,50,00,000 citizens across the country. These employments support more than 17,50,00,000 citizens of our country. Failure to foster this sector will create a domino effect in our ailing economy and would be counterproductive in the long run, as it impacts hard the future of our country i.e. our students.
Association of Un-Aided Private School
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