COVID-19 caught one and all unawares. All plan sheets were virtually formatted, and for a while, several industries went comatose. The education sector found itself in the eye of the storm and governments did not lose time in issuing rulings regarding fee-exemption to be effected by the private schools.
Needless to say, the private schools found themselves in a double whammy. They had to sustain the school and pay salaries to their teachers and at the same time think about resuming classes for the timely completion of the syllabuses.
The schools resorted to online teaching, they worked on the logistics, tied the loose ends, and started the process. Parents’ response to virtual classes were mixed. Many of them found it to be inadequate and not worthy of reimbursement. Relief for the private schools came from one of the High Courts, when it ruled that the virtual classes are to be considered at par with the regular classes and should be paid for in full.
Still, several states have not permitted the private schools to charge fees for three months. The schools in these states responded by suspending the salaries of the teachers or paying only a portion of it. Needless to say, that made the private school teachers one of the worst-hit group of professionals in the Corona-induced scenario.
It is well-known that the private school teachers draw salaries that are not nearly comparable to their government counterparts, after the 7th pay commission recommendations the divide has become even more acute.
There have been several suggestions and demands for standardizing the salaries for the TGT, PGT in CBSE or ICSE board schools. Different Private school teachers’ associations have been at the forefront of such movements but they seem to have fizzled out with time as schools are virtually unregulated in this respect. Although, there are clauses in RTE 2009 and CBSE Bye-Laws that mandate standardization of salaries of the teachers. Yet, several legal courses help the schools go around these clauses and the situation remains unchanged.
As for the teachers, they resorted to private tuitions to supplement their income. Schools banned the practice citing the reason that teachers deliberately underperform in the classes to increase the demand for private tuitions. The entire issue remains debatable to this date.
Enter COVID-19, the schools are unable to pay their teachers adequate salaries. Teachers now can rightfully resort to one on one tuitions to compensate themselves.
The only precondition for such an arrangement is the familiarity with the technology and access to basic logistics.
We have studied the situation closely and have interviewed several education leaders. We have found enough reasons to deduce that to ensure that the schools return to their pre-lockdown functional state after they reopen, it is essential to keep the morale of the teachers and give them reasons to be loyal to the organization.
We recommend that teachers take up tuitions on virtual platforms and use optimal technologies for the purpose. This will ensure the uninterrupted academic flow and will alleviate the financial woes of the private school teachers to a significant degree.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.