Parents and teachers can both benefit if educational institutes can increase their savings
In Chief Minister of Sindh’s lockdown address on March 22, the CM had announced ways in which the government would be providing relief to the residents of the province.
These included requesting utility providing companies to defer bill payments for March and requesting landlords to exempt tenants from paying rents in March. However, one sector that was not requested to accommodate accordingly was private educational institutes.
No hope for concession in school fees
With the suspension of academic classes on school premises, parents were expecting a concession in school fees. However, these demands were not met and some schools did not only send fee vouchers for the month of April but that too of the following month to be paid in advance.
On April 13, a member of Halaat Updates posted that Quaid e Azam Rangers School and College in Karachi was demanding tuition fees for the month of April and May to be paid in full.
Another member commented adding the school where her kids are enrolled not only charged the full fee but also added late fee surcharges for parents who were unable to pay on time.
Upon receiving complaints from parents, Sindh government issued orders asking private educational institutes to give a 20% concession in tuition fees. But on April 16, these orders were suspended by the Sindh High Court.
A petition was filed in the court which stated the Sindh government ordered for a 20% concession in tuition fees while ordering schools to pay full salaries to their staff. The petitioner’s council argued in court that it was not possible to do both at the same time.
As a result, the SHC suspended the orders after hearing the case.
A vicious cycle of financial strain
It may become difficult for some schools to pay their staff full salaries if they were to extend a 20% fee concession to students. The teachers and non-academic staff too have families to support and they rely on their salaries to make ends meet.
In such a scenario, the Sindh government needs to do better.
It is pertinent to note that with a lockdown in place, academic institutes currently have no overhead expenditures. For instance, no electricity or water is being utilized as aptly pointed out by a member in the group. This can provide some relief in expenses for academic institutes.
The Sindh government can request utility providing companies to give further relief to academic institutes, especially small and medium enterprises.
Savings on such expenses can allow institutes to give full salaries to its employees, while also provide some concession in tuition fees.