Parents of students of different private schools in Kolkata have staged a demonstration, demanding 50 per cent waiver of tuition fees.
Around 100 parents, under the banner of the United Guardians’ Association, staged the demonstration at College Square on Wednesday.
They also reached out to the Chief Minister’s Office, demanding her intervention on the issue if the private schools do not heed to their pleas.
“We demand that the school authorities take only the tuition fees from guardians this year and waive other charges such as transport, development and electricity,” said Supriyo Bhattacharya, the convenor of the association.
“We also demand that the schools should charge only 50 per cent of the tuition fee and the schools that have taken the full amount already should return the half of it,” he said.
Bhattacharya said if the demands are not met, the guardians will start a bigger movement. “Guardians are not in a position to pay full fees due to the economic hardships caused by the lockdown,” he said.
Many guardians also staged protests in front of a private school in the Ranikuthi area in south Kolkata.
Demonstrations also took place outside a school in the Chandni Chowk area in central Kolkata. Besides, some parents also protested against fee hike at a school in Durgapur in Paschim Bardhaman district.
There has been a series of protests in the past one month against hike in school fees in different parts of the city, and the state.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked private schools not to hike fees, considering the difficulties faced by guardians in the present situation.
Education Minister Partha Chatterjee also warned of strict action if any school went ahead with the decision to hike fees.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said the government should intervene and resolve the issue. “The guardians have been forced to hit the roads as they have been pushed to the wall,” he said.
When contacted, several private schools said it was not possible to provide any such waiver in fees.
“We were conducting online classes throughout this lockdown. Our teachers are working from home through laptops provided by the school. How can we reduce the tuition fees? We didn’t hike it this year but it is not possible to lessen the fees by half,” said the principal of a south Kolkata boys’ school.
The principal of a school in Belgharia said, “The drivers of our school buses, the security staff, the maintenance staff cannot go without pay just because classes are not being held.” “The guardians knew very well they have to pay a particular amount while admitting their wards. Now, if all of them demand waivers how can that be possible? We can consider exceptional cases on humanitarian grounds,” he said.