Even after majority private schools in Chandigarh refused to pay salaries to employees for April, the Chandigarh education department stood on its ground and decided that the schools cannot force parents to pay fee amid lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Director of school education, Chandigarh, Rubinderjit Singh Brar, while confirming the developments said, “The UT education Department stands with its previous order on fee collection. Parents cannot be forced by the schools to deposit the fee mandatorily, however, if any parent willingly wants to submit the dues, there is no bar on that.”

The UT education department had deferred the payment of tuition fee for the 2020-21 session in government and private schools owing to the lockdown. The order said that the dates for fee collection will be announced after the schools reopen and a month’s time will be given for the payment to the parents.

Citing lacks of funds in absence of fee collection, 50 of 77 private schools in Chandigarh said that they will not be paying salaries to teachers and Class 4 employees for April.

The chairman of the Independent Schools Association (ISA), HS Mamik, said that the salaries of the staff will be delayed till the time the collection of the fee is not permitted under such circumstances.

Questioning who gave the education department the authority to stop schools from collecting the fee, Mamik said, “It is highly unfair. We are left with no choice but to approach the Punjab and Haryana high court as soon as possible.”

Due to the tussle between the private schools and the education department, around 12,000 teachers and 7,000 Class 4 employees working in private schools in Chandigarh are getting impacted.

After repeated complaints regarding fee collection against various city schools by parents, the education department had asked all the private unaided schools to display their balance sheet online by March 30. However, none of the schools complied with the directions. Explanation calls were also made to over 15 schools by the education department.

Chandigarh Parents’ Association president Nitin Goyal said, “If balance sheets of any school reveal that the school management is short of funds for paying salaries to its staff, those particular schools should be allowed to charge a reduced fee so as to cover the salaries of teachers and other employees only.”

However, he added that parents should not be burdened with the fat salaries of the top management and trustees as they are already very well-off and financially secure.

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