Many private schools are about to close due to the Corona outbreak. Low-budget private schools are facing a crisis as there is no alternative funding as financial resources are completely cut off. About 80 per cent of most private schools in India are low-budget schools. Here students have to pay low fees. To parents, these schools are an alternative to government schools.
According to the think-tank Center for Civil Society (CCS), low-budget ‘private schools are an extended part of society’ that meets the needs of economically backward communities and in many cases a few run such schools in their own homes.
A report titled ‘State of the Sector-Private Schools in India’ published by the Central Square Foundation (CSF) states that more than 70 per cent of students in Indian private schools have to spend up to Rs 1,000 per month on fees. Where 45 percent of the cost per month is less than 500 rupees. Employment is severely affected by epidemics and lockdowns.
In this situation, all the low-budget private schools have a deficit in their main source of income and have further complicated the situation by conducting online classes. Even though the school is closed, the expenses in multiple sectors including rent, tax, electricity bill have to be met regularly.
A study published in June found that low-budget private schools in Corona have problems paying fees. The Indian School Finance Corporation, a non-banking financial institution that provides financial support to educational institutions, also conducted a survey on the subject. Owners and principals of private schools, colleges and vocational training institutes were present in a Q&A session with 1,678 people from different fields of education.
There were also representatives from low-budget private schools. According to their statistics, 85.5% of them cited fee collection as a major challenge. According to the survey, the main reasons for this are – many parents do not have financial resources closed (55%), cannot go to school or bank to deposit fees due to lockdown (24.5%), cannot pay fees on time due to late pay (12%) and Not willing to pay online class fees (8.5 %).
This survey is also included in the CSF’s survey report titled ‘State of Sector – Private Schools in India’. The report noted that long-term school closures, postponement of examinations and non-payment of fees by a large number of students have had the biggest impact on the revenue of low-budget schools.
CSF Managing Director Vikram Daulat Singh said all the low-budget private schools had informed them that no fees were charged during the lockdown and that was why many teachers were not paid. “All schools were closed in mid-March because of Corona,” he said. At that time the new academic year started in the schools and fees were charged. Many schools could not take last year’s fees from students.
According to him, there is no way to solve this problem until the situation is normal after the epidemic comes under control. Because it is a private school, the government cannot interfere here. Anil Swarup, former Secretary to the Government of India, works in the Education Department of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. According to him, this is an ‘unprecedented time’ and the problem should be solved directly by the partners. Neither the central nor the state government can solve this problem. Because parents cannot be forced to pay fees, schools cannot be instructed to collect fees compulsorily.