Archbishop of Calcutta Reverend Thomas D’ Souza told Metro on Wednesday that schools under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta would “definitely” examine the recommendation of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian schools to consider waiver of “certain fees”.
“The association (Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools in India), I am told, had made some recommendations about the tuition fees and some other fees…. Our schools have not taken any decision on the recommendation yet. But we will definitely do that very soon. We will examine whether it is possible to consider certain fees,” the archbishop said.
“On one hand, we have to be sympathetic towards our parents, on the other we have to be fair to our teachers,” he added.
The archbishop said: “The association cannot take a decision on fees. The founder bodies and the managing committees of the individual schools can only take a decision on students’ fees.”
The archbishop is the head of all Roman Catholic churches, many of which run reputable Anglo-Indian schools in Calcutta. But decisions on all administrative matters of the schools are taken by the founder bodies and managing committees of the individual institutions.
Reverend D’ Souza said he had been informed that the association had discussed fees among other issues at its meeting on Monday and proposed to recommend the schools to consider the annual fees, mostly for services that are not applicable when students are not going to school for a prolonged period.
The Methodist Church, too, told Metro it would consider waiving fees “that are not relevant now when the schools are not operating”.
Reverend Kamalaksha Sardar, the secretary of the founder bodies of schools under Methodist churches, said he had yet to know the details of the outcome of the meeting of the heads of Anglo-Indian schools.
“But I personally feel there should not be any problem to consider the fees that are not relevant now. We have rolled back the enhanced fees. We have not asked parents who are in difficulty to pay the fees. We can also consider some other fees like sports or games fees,” said Reverend Sardar.
Calcutta Boys’, Calcutta Girls’, Mount Hermon and Methodist Church School, Dankuni, are some of the schools run by the Methodists.
Reverend Sardar said: “The decision (on fees) will have to be taken by the respective founder bodies.”
St Xavier’s, Loreto, Don Bosco, St Lawrence, St Mary’s, St Teresa, Aloysius and Loyola High are some of the Roman Catholic schools in the city. All of them will be at liberty to take their own decision on the fees.
The executive committee of the Bengal branch of the Association of Heads of Anglo Indian Schools had held a meeting on Monday where, among other issues, the problem faced by several Anglo-Indian schools because of non-payment of students’ fees by parents since April was discussed. The committee had decided not to give any discount to parents on the monthly tuition fees because most of the teacher salaries are sourced from this amount.
The association had proposed to recommend the governing boards of schools to reduce some fees that were not applicable because the schools are not operational.
The Church of North India had on Tuesday pulled the nine schools out of the association, saying the association had no authority to take any decision on fees.
Before the pullout, the association had 60-odd institutions.
Reverend Paritosh Canning, the bishop of the Calcutta diocese of the CNI, had said: “…The Association of Heads of Anglo Indian Schools in India (AHAISI) West Bengal branch, is not authorised to deal with matters relating to the fee structure of their schools. This is solely decided by the board (of the respective schools), duly approved by the chairman (of the board).”
The bishop is the chairman of the governing boards of all the CNI schools.
“The association… has no authority to comment regarding waiver of any fee payable, by our schools, which are governed directly by the Bishop of Calcutta, CNI,” the bishop said.
Sources in the CNI said not everyone in their fold agreed to the decision to withdraw membership from the association.
The schools, however, are unanimous that the association cannot force any decision on the fees on them.
A section of the CNI had tried to reason with the bishop that even if they were opposed to the fee waiver proposal, they should not withdraw the membership.
Several Anglo-Indian institutions which are not part of the CNI said they were planning to “take a look at some of the fees”, sources in the schools said.