Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: The Centre has urged private schools across the country not to increase school fees, and not to charge three-month fees in one go following spread of coronavirus and subsequent lockdown. It has asked states to interface with guardians/parents and schools to have a coordinated approach.

Sources said parents and guardians have taken up the fee hike issue with the Human Resource Development Ministry.

Taking cognizance of such complaints, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank' said on Friday, "I appeal to all schools that in the present difficult circumstances caused by coronavirus pandemic, the issue should be considered sympathetically".

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He hoped that state education departments across the country must be considering the demands in coordination with parents/guardians and school managements.

Meanwhile, Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia said on Friday that private schools in the national capital can only charge tuition fee on a monthly basis from the parents and also cannot hike fee without the government's nod.

Sisodia, also the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, said the schools cannot charge any other fees, such as annual fee or transportation fee, from the parents in wake of the pandemic coronavirus.

Speaking to the media through a digital press conference, Sisodia said there were reports of unfair fee hike, demand of quarterly payment and reduced or non-payment of salaries by some private schools.

He announced that private schools are allowed to charge only tuition fee on monthly basis from their students.

"We are receiving complaints from many parents that private schools have increased their fees. And those students who are failing to pay the fees on time are being dropped from the online classes. I would request the private schools to not come down to this level," said Sisodia.

Outlining the new directions issued by the Directorate of Education on Friday, Sisodia said as per the order, all private schools are informed that they will not increase their fees under any head without a prior approval by the Delhi government.

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"Only tuition fee can be charged from the students on monthly basis. Schools cannot ask for three months' fees at a time. And online classes facilities will not be stopped or terminated by private schools for the students, even if they fail to pay their fees. All students will have access to online learning facilities provided by their individual schools, even if they fail to pay the tuition fee."

Stressing that the order was issued in compliance with the National Disaster Management Act and the Delhi School Education Act, Sisodia advised the private schools to take it seriously.

He also asked the schools to release full salaries of their employees on time.

"All schools are directed to release full salaries of their staff on time including teaching and non-teaching staff. The order is applied to all permanent, contractual and outsourced employees of the schools. Those schools which are not complying with this order will be booked under Delhi School Education Act and National Disaster Management Act."

(With IANS Inputs)