Putting a ban on six schools
The school fees conundrum
Wonder how this would have been noted by the State Government. This question may be better understood in the backdrop of the fact that a student organisation has ‘banned’ six private schools ostensibly for charging fees from students for the months which were under lockdown. No one doubts the intention of the student body in banning the six private schools, but this should more than say that the Government has not been paying the ‘needed’ attention to an issue such as school fees from students during the period when there was a complete lockdown. Even today schools are yet to open and no one is really sure how well the supposed online classes are going on. No doubt online classes can never replace classes in the classrooms but given the pandemic, schools and institutes of higher learning have had to fall back on what technology has to offer and hence online classes. There will be different takes on the decision to ban the schools and there will be more different takes on whether students should be expected to pay fees for months in which there were no classes at all. The debate may never end, and it is purportedly to resolve the issue that the State Education Department had earlier stepped in an announced a 30 pc fees for the months during the lockdown. Obvious that the stand of the Education Department has failed to cut ice with the student body and hence the decision to put the ban on the said schools. One wonders whether the ‘ban’ decision of the student body will jolt the Government and compel them to reach out to all stakeholders or not, but obviously situation cannot be allowed to carry on like this. Class suspended for months on end and a ban on some schools is what is not needed at all at this point of time. The said six schools may be asked to explain what its compelling reasons are for collecting fees from the students for the lockdown months and all concerned should be ready to listen to their story with an open mind without any preconceived notions.
There can be no black and white answer on whether fees should be collected from students during the months in which lockdown was imposed all over the country. It can be seen from so many different viewpoints. To some this question may sound better if rephrased as ‘Should parents be made to pay school fees for their children for the months during which all the schools were closed’ or better still it could be ’Should parents be made to pay fees for the period during which there were no classes and when they are also hit so hard by the lockdown triggered by the pandemic ?’ And remember not all parents belong to the suited, booted class or are Government employees who enjoy their pay whether there was lockdown or not. Moreover not all parents are business tycoons for whom paying school fees will be somewhat like taking a bucketful of water from a large pond. On the other hand, it also stands that not all private schools have the deep pocket to keep paying their teachers and other employees without charging fees from the students. The situation is complex. And this calls for all party concerned to sit down and talk things over else Manipur can only look towards darker days. Not clear how private schools from other parts of the country coped with the situation, but then Manipur has its own peculiarities and drawing a comparison with other parts of the country may not exactly help. There can be no one answer to the situation and this is where it becomes necessary for all concerned to sit down and talk things with no preconceived notions.