KOLKATA: Several schools in the city have started rolling back teachers’ salaries, with another institution choosing to let its director go.
Most schools that have rolled back pay have started with the added salary component that teachers got after the Sixth Pay Commission was implemented this January.
The action comes amid a running controversy over tuition fees. Parents’ groups have repeatedly pleaded with school managements, asking them not to hike tuition fees because of the lockdown-related economic stress; the Bengal government, too, has urged schools to refrain from hiking fees and forgo some fee components.
Many of the schools that have gone for a partial rollback of salary have clarified that it is a temporary meas-ure necessitated by non-pa-yment of fees by a section of parents.
A senior educationist, who was serving as a director in a new-age private school at Joka, was recently relieved of her job. She was told that the school was suffering from non-payment of fees by parents.
According to sources, salaries of teachers at a new-age school on Prince Anwar Shah Road and another at Kasba have been slashed by 20%. A well-known private school in Ballygunge has also taken the same route. The school authorities said that they had implemented the Sixth Pay Commission hike in January, but had to roll it back because of the Covid situation. “We were happy to introduce the hike, and are equally pained now to roll it back. This is an extraordinary situation and we can only hope that teachers will co-operate,” said the principal of the school on Prince Anwar Shah Road. A senior administrator of the Kasba school said: “We hope the situation will improve and we will be able release the salary withheld in a staggered manner later.” Both agreed that things would automatically get better if parents started paying fees.
Other schools have told teachers that unless parents started paying up school fees in full, they could expect pay cuts, at least up to 15%.
In some schools, more than 50% parents have withheld payments, claimed sources. The parents have requested schools to charge only tuition fees and give waivers to other annual fees that are charged for infrastructure development, co-curricular activities, examinations, computers and libraries.
Lack of revenue has forced some other schools to implement unprecedented steps. A school in New Town, which is part of a well-known franchise, has asked its teachers to start calling up parents and request them to pay up. In another school owned by this franchise in a neighbouring district, salaries are being paid in instalments. All teachers were paid 80% salary in May with a verbal “give-back” assurance.
A school on Market Street and another one that runs four branches, three in the heart of the city and one in a district, has slashed teachers’ salaries by 50%, with verbal give-back assurances. “But there is nothing in writing. Even when the salary has been halved, there is no written circular about the reason given, just a verbal assurance that these are difficult times and the school needs our cooperation,” said a senior teacher.
A few schools have indicated that they may have to relieve some teachers, who are in charge of co-curricular activities. “We have requested these teachers to come to campus every day, stay back till the evening and take online co-curricular classes from school to make their cases stronger with the management,” said a school principal.