Karnataka schools staff stage protest over fee cut order

Bengaluru, Feb 23 (IANS): Thousands of teachers, staff and heads of private schools across Karnataka on Tuesday staged a massive rally in the tech city against the state government's recent order to reduce fees by 30 per cent due to the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting classes.

"We have staged a rally in the city for the state government to reconsider its order to reduce the tuition fee by 30 per cent, as we are unable to run schools and pay salaries to teachers and other staff," said a member of the Karnataka private unaided school managements.

The rally by nearly 50,000 people from the railway station to Freedom Park in the city centre blocked the 2-km road and disrupted traffic for hours.

As hundreds of private and unaided schools across the southern state remained shut for over 10 months since April 2020 due to the Covid-induced lockdown and restrictions on resuming classes to check the virus spread, they could not collect tuition and other fees from the students.

"As we are all facing a financial crunch due to non-collection of admission and tuition fees from students, we have urged the state government to compensate our teaching and non-teaching staff who could not be paid salaries during the pandemic," the member told the media.

State Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who rushed to the venue to pacify the protesters, assured them of resolving the issue by convening a meeting of parents and school managements.

"The state education department advised the private schools to reduce the fee by 30 per cent for this academic year on representation by parents who are also facing hardships due to Covid-19 affecting their earnings," Kumar told the media.

The Minister invited school managements and parents' associations for a meeting on Wednesday to resolve the issue as the schools are not in a position to reduce the fees as they were conducting online classes since October 2020.



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