Punjab and Haryana High Court declared on Tuesday that all private schools are permitted to collect tuition fees from students during the self-quarantine period, regardless of providing online classes or not, so long as they have some means of distance teaching. Justice Nirmaljit Kaur also granted schools leave to collect admission fees. The ruling came after several pleas reached the court by the Independent Schools’ Association, the Recognised, Punjab Schools Welfare Association, and Affiliated School Association and others against the state of Punjab.
The verdict said that all schools are fully authorized to collect any dues. It does not matter if the school is facilitating any means of online classes. Nevertheless, if not online classes, then they should keep on passing online learning (recordings, videos, PDFs) so that education is not heavily affected due to the present or future lockdowns enforced due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The verdict also said that the parents unable to pay the school fee may submit their report with sufficient evidence about their economic condition, which will be inspected by the school authorities and after being looked into sympathetically, the parents will be given concessions or their entire fee might be forgiven depending on the case.
In case the parent’s burden is still not lessened due to the decision taken by the school upon reviewing their documents, they may reach out to the regulatory agency, as constituted under Section 7 of the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Un-aided Educational Institutions Act of 2016. No parent may fabricate a report of their economic status. The school administrations have been instructed to calculate the yearly expenses they sustain under the annual charges for the period the school remains closed for.
The management of each school shall only collect fees to recover genuine expenditure suffered by them, this includes transport charges and building charges, but they shall not charge fees for any activity or facility which had no upkeep costs. They have also been prevented from raising their fee for the session 2020-21 and the structure shall be similar to that of 2019-20. If the school is going through a period of financial hardships may approach the education officer of the particular district along with the necessary proof, who will look into it and give suitable orders within three weeks upon submission of the application. In an interim on May 22, the High Court had permitted private schools to collect 70 percent of the total fee throughout 2020-21.
This judgment had been passed when an appeal was filed by the Independent Schools’ Association contending the State Government’s decision allowing schools to collect only the tuition fee and not the transportation, building, and other expenditures. Afterward, parents held protests at several places in Punjab dictating that they should not be charged when children were at home.