We have families, don’t cut fees, say teachers

City COVID-19 Economy Education Top Story

Tell govt they are surviving on half salary

Bengaluru: Teachers and school management staff of Karnataka are unhappy with the state government’s decision to cut 30% of the annual fees for students.

After days of protests by the parents, the government passed an order on January 30, stating that the parents will pay only 70% of the fees, and the schools can charge no extra fees for this academic year.

 “When we didn’t stop their studies, why are they doing so?” said Meenakshi Shekri, a teacher at The Oxford Senior Secondary School, JP Nagar. “We celebrated all festivals, and conducted all activities online.”

Neelam Gupta, another teacher from the same school agreed with Shekri: “We agree there may be some genuine cases where the parents are unable to pay fees. Something can be done about it. But it shouldn’t be the case with everyone; they should understand that we also have families. How are we going to survive?” 

Most private school teachers are surviving on almost half of their salary since the lockdown was imposed in March 2020. If parents pay only 70% of the fees, as per government’s decision, it will directly affect the salary of teachers.

The government relaunched the Vidyagama programme for the students. Under it, students can attend offline classes for half a day with consent from their parents. The school will provide sanitizers and hand washes. The students should carry a negative RT-PCR test certificate to attend the offline classes. It is not compulsory for everyone to attend offline classes; students can opt for the online option too. Teachers can also make videos of their classes and provide the links to students who opted for the online option.

On February 23, the Karnataka Private School Managements, Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff Coordination Committee (KPMTCC) called a protest at Freedom Park. Around 25,000 private school teachers and non-teaching staff from all over the state participated in the protest.

Devkant, a teacher from Balak Public School, Yeshwantpur, the sole breadwinner in his family, participated in the protest. Holding his placard high, he informed The Observer: “The situation is more or less the same all over India. We appeal to the government to consider our problems before taking any decisions. We are not only teachers; we also have families.” 

“We should also have our dignity. If we accept defeat, what will we teach the kids? So we appeal to the government to take our families into consideration before announcing decisions,” Devkant added.

Nandini Chauhan, a teacher at St. Mary’s High Schoool, Garvebhavipalya, said: “Petrol price has skyrocketed, and hence the rate of other essentials has also gone up. How will we manage with this salary? Every school is not charging high annual fees. What about the schools that charges a low fee? The government has put all the schools under the same criteria.”

Shashi Kumar, secretary of the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS), said in his speech at the protest: “We have to pay insurance. If we don’t pay, our vehicles are seized. What about people working as security guards and drivers? Every person will be affected if you bring down the fee.  We understand that parents are affected, but what about us? Please don’t put us out of jobs.” 

Kumar added: “We are not asking for food kits, but please give us our money, nothing else. The education minister should make sure teachers’ children are protected, provided for and educated well.”

S. Suresh Kumar, minister for primary & secondary education and Sakala, said in his speech: “The schools say all teachers are paid, but according to data, 50% are not paid. Keeping teachers and parents in mind, if you (KAMS) come up with something, we’re ready for that.” 

Hanumaraju, the father of Vishruta H, who studies in Vidya Vardhaka English School, Udupi, said fee should be reduced as the parents are affected by the pandemic. Private schools won’t be affected much by a fee cut as they have enough money to pay their teachers for a year.

Vishruta, who studies in class 10, said: “Offline classes are better than the online classes. There were a lot of network issues, I couldn’t hear and concentrate properly. We couldn’t ask any questions or raise doubts; there was a barrier.”



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