An online petition has been signed by parents of over 1,000 students requesting the government to inspect private schools or institutions in Maharashtra related to finances and other operations.
Since the lockdown was announced in March, the schools have been shut down leading to various fees-related debates between the school administration and parents.
The online petition was started by a parent named Anubha Sahai from Thane where she demanded the government to audit all the private schools which were charging annual fees of Rs 30,000.
"Most schools are profiteering and charging exorbitant fees from parents every year. They are hiking fees every year without giving any proper justification. During this pandemic to they are charging fees by claiming that they have to pay salaries to teachers even when they have a huge surplus," Sahai said.
By late Wednesday, around 1,160 parents had already signed the petition. The parents complained that despite operations being ceased, the schools were still charging a hefty amount.
"Some schools are also charging transport fees and various other fees under different heads for different activities when these activities are not even being conducted. We are ready to pay fees for meeting expenses incurred on payment of salaries to teachers but we also want them to share the balance sheet," Sahai further added.
Despite several promises and assurances from the government to assist parents during the period of lockdown, most of the parents informed the state education department that schools were threatening them to stop virtual teaching classes in case they failed to pay the fees.
Meanwhile, the education management stated their problems due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown and claimed that they were required to pay salaries to their teachers. According to them, there is likely to be an increase in the expenditure post lockdown to meet the social distancing and sanitisation norms and therefore they have hiked the fees for the ongoing academic session.