Students Face Uncertainty As Delhi School Shuts Door Amid COVID
The school shut as very few students paid their fees, says a trustee. But a teacher contests this claim.
"Can a mother sleep in peace if her child's education is disrupted?" asks Kusum Chauhan, as she laments the closure of a private school in south-east Delhi, where three of her children are enrolled.
The 36-year-old, whose husband sells tea on a cart, is worried that her children might completely lose out on education, if Gyandeep Vidya Mandir, a non-profit budget school in Madanpur Khadar, remains shut for a long period of time.
"I had paid fees till December last year, after the school said they would prevent my children from attending online classes if I failed to pay fees. Now that the school is shut, where will my children go for education?"Kusum Chauhan, Parent.
Like Kusum, Rajeev, too is uncertain about the future of his daughter, who studies in the seventh grade.
The 32-year-old, who works as a guard with a private company, says that although his daughter has been promoted to the seventh grade, her education remains disrupted for lack of classes.
"I only earn Rs 11,000 a month. The school has been shut for months now and I am running around to get my daughter admitted to a government school as I cannot afford a private one," he said.
Why Did the School Shut?
RG Mehra, a member of the non-profit trust that runs the school, claims that the number of students in the school had dropped from 200 in February to just 37 at the last count done this year.
He attributes this fall in attendance to the inability of parents to pay fees, as most of them – employed in low-earning, daily wage jobs – had lost all sources of income during the pandemic.
"If the parents are unable to pay fees, then the school has overheads like security and electricity. We are fully dependent on the fees collected from students."RG Mehra, Trustee, Gyandeep Vidya Mandir
Maintaining that the school doesn't receive donations, Mehra said that the school had to be closed as very few of the 37 students had paid their fees.
Mehra's claim, however, is contested by school teacher Mohammad Sijjil, who said that the school had over 100 students at last count, around 90 of whom had paid fees.
He also claimed that the school hasn't paid teachers since March last year. This, however, is contested by Mehra who said the school had offered teachers whatever salary it could during the lockdown period, "but they refused."
While the teachers have filed a petition in the Delhi High Court demanding their full pay, the school's trust has set up a probe to look into the number of students who had actually attended classes through WhatsApp.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.