Mumbai: With many in the state suffering due to COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown, Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) has demanded that the fees charged by schools and colleges be slashed.
In a letter to the state government, the Fee Regulating Authority (FRA) and universities, SIO has proposed that the fees of all the schools in the state must be reduced by 50% for the months when no physical classes are to be held. The organisation has also proposed a 15% reduction in annual fees of all higher, technical, medical and vocational education institutes. At the same time, SIO has demanded, the government needs to ensure that the school staff are retained and continue to receive the salaries.
“Due to lockdown, many parents are finding it very difficult to bear some of their regular expenses, including the school and college fees of their children. Education is an essential requirement for the development of society. Hence, despite the ongoing crisis, it must be ensured that students in the state are educated seamlessly and without any hurdles,” said Mohammad Salman, president, SIO South Maharashtra.
He justified the organisation’s demand by pointing out that, for most of the students in the state, physical classes won’t begin in the next few months. “Instead of physical classes, the schools and colleges will conduct the classes online or through other media. This will save them much of their regular infrastructural cost. These savings can be used for providing some concession in fees to the students,” he said.
The state school education department has issued a government resolution (GR) to providing schools from hiking fees in the academic year 2020-21 and allowing fee payment in installments. However, no such directives have been issued for higher education institutes.
In its letter, SIO has also noted that the state Fee Regulating Authority (FRA), which regulates the fees of professional education institutes, has already fixed the fee-structure for these colleges. Most of the institutes have either been allowed to hike their fees by anywhere between 5% to 15% or charge the same fees as last year’s (2019-20). These hikes need to be rolled back and replaced with fee cuts, the organisation asked the authorities.
SIO has cautioned that the educational institutes shouldn’t be allowed to hold the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff, especially those appointed on a temporary or ad-hoc basis, or discontinue their services under the pretext of providing concession in fees.
In addition to fee concession, SIO also demanded that the amount of scholarships provided to OBC, VJ/NT, SEBC and EBC students must be increased substantially. The fees charged at coaching institutes also needs to be regulated, suggests the letter.