With the ongoing pandemic resulting in several parents losing employment and thereby unable to pay their children's school fees, the ICSE schools in Bengaluru have tied up with Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFC) as an intermediary to collect fees, reported The News Minute. With NBFCs approaching the parents for fee collection, this has added to the woes of parents, who are already financially struggling due to job loss.
'Collect 70% Fees'
In January 2021, the Karnataka government had issued an order under the Karnataka Education Act, asking the schools to only collect 70 per cent of the total fees, and also provided the parents an option to pay the fees on a monthly basis. However, this cannot be implemented because, in 2019, the ICSE and CBSE school management moved the high court against their inclusion under the ambit of the Karnataka Education Act. The state government told the court that it will not take any coercive actions against the schools.
The involvement of third parties in collecting fees from the parents has put them in a fix. M Shakeel, President of Voice of Parents -- a collective forum of aggrieved parents -- said that roping in NBFCs for fee collection will put pressure on parents and they will be forced further debts.
"The parents have to submit post-dated cheques to the NBFCs," said Shakeel to The News Minute. He further said, "It is worrying that the schools are not following the directives to address the parents' grievances and the government's inability to implement the fee regulation. Even if the court decides that 70% fee cap is valid, then also it will be difficult for the parents to get back the fee already paid to the schools."
A parent also mentioned that some schools promote NBFCs advertisement on their website, stating that it would provide zero-interest-rate loans to parents. "On the school website, they advertise a finance company called Gray Quest saying it is a zero-interest EMI scheme that the parents can avail if they are in financial distress. But, once we go to the Gray Quest website and start uploading the details, it says that we are not eligible for the zero-interest," said a parent to The News Minute.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party-Karnataka unit has written to the state Education Minister S Suresh Kumar to take measures to alleviate the parents' and students' concern.
'Good For All'
The school managements have said that it is win-win situation for all. "The parents do not have to pay anything. The schools are subsidizing the fees. Or else, the parents have to pay in three-four installments yearly, whereas this allows the parents to pay on a monthly basis," Srinivasan, president of Independent CBSE Schools Association in Bengaluru, told The News Minute.