The Maharashtra English Schools Trustees Association (MESTA) has written to Ms. Varsha Gaikwad, Education Minister, Government of Maharashtra, requesting her to immediately withdraw the ban on collection of school fees by private school operators so that the teaching and support staff can be paid their impending salaries.
Most of the teaching and non-teaching staff of private schools in the state haven’t been paid or would go unpaid from this month onwards as they are heavily dependent on fee collections. Sanjay Patil, State President, MESTA has urged the education minister to withdraw the circular issued on March 30th preventing private schools from collecting fees until the completion of lockdown.
The teaching and non-teaching staff across the state fear for their livelihood and survival even though the prime minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi has mentioned that all establishments should refrain from retrenching staff. Despite no money in the coffers, teachers from most of the private schools have maintained continuity in education through e-learning and innovative techniques to reach out to students so that they are not at a loss. Teachers state they are looking at a bleak and uncertain future as they are unsure when the moratorium will be lifted and they will be paid their dues.
Data from the Economic Survey of Maharashtra tabled in 2018 reveals that there were 22,477 private unaided schools in the state – a rise of over 111 percent since 2013-14. There are 18,000 Trustee Members and 80,000 teachers across 37 districts associated with MESTA in the state. Across states, chief ministers have imposed similar restrictions on collecting fees citing difficulty among parents to cough up the amount due to job losses and salary cuts, thus making it difficult for schools to make payments to over two crore teaching and non-teaching staff across five lakh private schools.
MESTA in their letter to the education minister urged schools, government and parents to work together to minimize the impact on everyone. “We have proposed a four-point programme to the education minister in our petition which includes payment of fees on a monthly basis rather than quarterly, as was the practice earlier. We also urge the government to support us in our endeavour as this would ensure continuity of academics,” said Sanjay Patil.