In the aftermath of the pandemic scores of unaided private budget, schools are facing an existential threat as the fee collection has dwindled and students are moving to government schools.
There are myriad non-negotiable expenses involved in school operations viz. rent of the premises, salaries of the teachers. While these expenses are standing the revenue has fluctuated wildly in the months of the lockdown. The parents have demanded fee cuts and waivers and this has put the schools on spot.
Parents are even opting to move their children to government schools to save on the fee and as a consequence, the low-budget private schools are threatened with closure.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the reality is that the majority of private schools run on small budgets. As many as 70 percent of the private schools in the country charge fee less than a thousand rupees per month. The figures have been sourced from the ‘State of the Sector Report on Private Schools’ report by Central Square Foundation. The move to government schools may have been catalyzed by the fact that the low budget private schools have not improved on the quality of education substantially and the perceived difference between the quality of education between them and the government schools have increasingly become less.
Earlier, several representative bodies of private schools have moved courts for relief, to which they were allowed to collect tuition fees in the lockdown period, however, this had not sufficed.
According to the media reports, the schools are struggling as the tuition fee they are allowed to collect is just 50 percent of the total fee, at most, even so, 30 percent of the parents have paid.
According to an estimate, educational institutions across the country are faced with unpaid loans to the tune of 1 lakh crore rupees. The associations of unaided private schools have demanded interest-free loans to pay recurring costs.
There are some novel demands too from the associations of unaided private schools, one of them is for a neutral regulator. The private schools are regulated by the same government departments as the government schools, which are basically on opposite ends of the spectrum, and in a sense competing for growth. The need according to the experts is for a neutral transparent body to ensure a level playing field that does not make private schools feel encumbered by excessive regulations.
The issue of private schools has wide ramifications as around 12 crore children study in them.
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.