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No Fees, No Classes: Budget Schools in UP Fear Permanent Closure

According to the Association of Private Schools in UP, around 50% budget schools have stopped online classes. 

Updated
Education
4 min read
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“If schools don’t open and parents don’t submit fees, I might have to shut down the school for good,” laments Satish Narayan (name changed) on the telephone.

The Lucknow resident, who runs a budget school for classes one to eight, says he had to stop online classes since April as fees stopped coming in since March, when India shut its schools for nearly 32 crore children as the entire nation went into lockdown.

Started three years ago in 2017, the school which catered to about 150 students, has now become a ‘burden’ on Narayan, who has to pay a monthly rent of Rs 8,000 to pay those who own the building.

According to the Association of Private Schools in UP, around 50% budget schools have stopped online classes. 
According to the Association of Private Schools in Uttar Pradesh, as much as 50 percent of the private budget schools have had to stop classes altogether as they no longer have any money left for paying teachers. 

This number gains significance as a report by Central Square Foundation on the status of private schools in India shows that about 64 percent students in Uttar Pradesh are enrolled in private schools.

After online lessons delivered through WhatsApp failed to get traction among students, Narayan says that he had arranged for photocopies to be delivered to students. But that too, went in vain.

According to the Association of Private Schools in UP, around 50% budget schools have stopped online classes. 

This has effectively left students without any education whatsoever.

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Opening Schools May Widen Debt

Like Narayan, Prakash Sharma too, tried teaching around 200 of his school students online in March. But all his efforts went in vain and only about 50 percent students turned up for these classes, out of which none paid fees since April this year. He stopped all online classes when teachers refused to teach without payment, which has been pending since March.

According to the Association of Private Schools in UP, around 50% budget schools have stopped online classes. 

He says that even if schools reopen in Uttar Pradesh partially, they will have to be sanitised regularly and various other measures will have to be put in place – an expenditure that schools may not be in a position to make.

What if Children Don’t Return?

Adil (name changed) has started a business of selling masks and sanitizers after repeated attempts by his school to go online yielded no effort.

The 12-year-old school caters to over 60 students from classes one to five and had even made attempts to call a few students to school to clear their doubts in July, after most students either said they didn’t have the devices or did not have internet connections.

According to the Association of Private Schools in UP, around 50% budget schools have stopped online classes. 

Asked what he would do if forced to shut the school, Adil said that he might look at converting it into a coaching centre.

In order to understand how students are losing out on education, The Quint reached out to parents of at least ten students across these three schools, most of whom refrained from addressing questions on not having paid school fees – a matter that has emerged as the latest flashpoint between schools and parents since the lockdown.

One parent who continued the conversation said he was a house painter who had suffered economic loss during the lockdown and did not have enough money left for school fee.

Another Class 9 student, who received the call in the absence of her parents, said that she “is worried about the loss of an academic year and that parents had not paid school fees as the school was shut.”

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10% of Closed Budget Schools May Shut Down Permanently

Atul Srivastav, President of Association of Private Schools in Uttar Pradesh, said that over 50 percent budget schools in the state, especially those in rural areas, have stopped all classes – both online and offline between March and July.

According to the Association of Private Schools in UP, around 50% budget schools have stopped online classes. 

Srivastav said that many schools have existing loans to pay and if fees continue to elude them, the owners may have to shut them and convert them into some other business to pay installments.

Srivastav said that the financial condition of schools with Classes 9 to 12 were much better as compared to the ones till primary, as parents often beat all odds to pay for the education of a child approaching board exams.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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