Kolkata parents demand schools fee and electricity bill to be waived off

Lockdown forces parents and citizens to seek exemption from school fee and electricity bill 

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Kolkata: After a week of rallying around private schools, exhausted parents came together under a united banner – Save Parents, Save Citizens, to register a united protest against schools not waiving off a part of their fees during the ongoing protest.

During a press conference called by the visibly upset parents, they asserting said that the corona pandemic and lockdown has affected the average citizens in every sphere of life. However, among all issues it’s school fees and electricity bill that has been affecting them the most.

Highlighting the plight of the common man, Rafey Siddiqui, founder of Good Human Foundation said, “The lockdown has affected in ways beyond imagination. So many of us have lost our jobs or have received a pay cut. Those in business have had to incur great loss, some even had to roll up their businesses. So, with limited income we have no option but to request schools from not raising their fees for the new session and also to waive a portion of their school fees, especially when the schools are closed.”

He paused, and then continued, “We understand that they also have to pay their teachers. But we also know that many schools have gone for a salary deduction of the teachers. So, why are we being asked to pay the full fees?”

Taking on, from there, Jayeeta Debnath, one of the parents spearheading the movement at GD Birla for the waiving of the school fees during the pandemic, explained that the fees of school is combination tuition fees, lab fees, miscellaneous fees and others. “Let us assume that the school is proving us services, for which we pay the fees. Thereby, following the simple rule, the school should at present charge us for services that they are offering us now, which is online teaching or tuition. They should waive off other fees that they levy on us.”

Watch the video of press conference

Highlighting the cold attitude of the school officials at GD Birla, she said, “We send out students to big private schools so that they grow up with good values. The school, charging us full fees when many parents have lost jobs or got a pay cut, will only teach the students to be selfish and self-centred even during a crisis. This is precisely what the school is doing. They are selfishly thinking of their profit even during a pandemic.” She added, “And you know what, most of these schools have themselves registered as trust. Their behaviour is a violation of the Trust Act, 1882.”

Other panellists alleged that when schools like St Joseph and Don Bosco Liluah were showing the way by either exempting fees for three months or waiving of half of their school fees then why were other schools not following the example set by these institutions.

“Parents have always paid full fees during the summer, puja and winter vacation. We have never asked for a part of the fees to be waived off. Then why are we asking now? It’s because we parents are facing a financial crisis because of the pandemic. The school authorities should pay heed to our request and waive off fees,” asserted Noor Mehvish, a social activist.

The representatives of various social organisation urged the state government to closely monitor the school fees issue and CESC charging regular electricity bills. “I know people working with CESC having to bear a pay cut and this company is charging us electricity bills on the basis of our previous year electricity consumption,” alleged Mehvish.

They all maintained that if the government, schools and CESC doesn’t pay heed to their request then they will be forced to hit the streets. “We also want to stay safe in our homes. But if those in authority don’t pay heed to our requests, then we will be left with no option but to come on streets. Such, is the state of our country, for every single right the citizens will have to hit the streets,” summed up Javed Akhtar, from All India Ekta Foundation.

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