Nagaland: Locked down but with wages to pay, private schools take tough decisions
Dimapur, May 18 (EMN): The Covid-19 pandemic has led to indefinite closure of all educational institutions, which has added a lot of stress on schools that are dependent on fees to run operations.
Speaking to Eastern Mirror, the principal of Maple Tree School informed that they have not given any deadline to the parents to clear schools fees, and added that since they are giving ‘proper classes as usual’, they cannot waive off school fees as they have to pay salaries to the teachers as well.
She also informed that they have paid staff salaries ‘despite many challenges’.
The principal shared that online classes were going on for nursery to class 12 students, from 9 am to 1 pm.
She added that normal classes were going on as usual except that it is being conducted online. She informed that since the lockdown, it was the fourth week of online classes with proper schedule of the school.
She informed that the classes are ‘engaging and interactive’ and the first online class was conducted for class 11 students on Monday.
She added that in case there is network problem or students cannot attend the online classes, then separate one-on-one classes are provided to the students, and even offline activities are held in ‘Google classroom’.
She also shared that even after lockdown is lifted, they can continue with the online classes as it helps both students and teachers in IT skills.
The vice principal of Christian Higher Secondary School Dimapur, Patricia Zhimomi, informed that they were neither collecting nor waiving off school fees but ‘keeping it at bay and not insisting on paying schools fees’.
“This is the humane approach to life right now,” she said, adding that so far they have paid the salaries of their staff.
She shared that without collecting school fees, classes are still going on, and the teachers are putting more effort since they have to plan their classes very meticulously.
Therefore, it would be unfair if they waive off school fees and not pay salaries to teachers, she said.
She informed that online classes have just begun and they are catching on and trying to cover the syllabus.
When asked about the requisitioning of schools for the quarantine centres, she informed that if the government wants to use the institution as a quarantine centre, they have ‘no option but to be open to it.’
In case the school is used as quarantine centre, it would not affect the online classes since everyone is working from home, she added.
For lower class students, they are sending videos and voicemails through various platforms and even the parents are actively involved, she informed.
Principal of Hope Academy, Sashila Ozukum, informed that they have neither waived off fees nor given any concession. At the same time, they have not given any deadline for paying school fees, he added.
The principal informed that if there is any order from the government, then they would follow it through and added that if the government employees get deducted salary, they would also charge reduced school fees, and the teachers’ salaries would be paid according to that percentage.
But as of now they have paid full salaries to their staff, she said.
Ozukum also informed that the school driver’s salaries were paid by collecting five percent of all the teachers’ salaries.
She added that they were not sure for the month of June since the fees ‘were not coming in as they were expecting’, but they have not given any deadline to the parents. They can pay the fees whenever they can, she said.
While speaking to the principal of Livingstone Higher Secondary School, Andrew Ahoto Sema, it was informed that due to lockdown, they cannot persuade or force parents to pay school fees.
He added that the staff of government schools and colleges were going to get their salaries whether they work or not, but private schools were ‘working day and night through online classes and hand outs, which is much more difficult than regular classes’.
He shared that right now, even if they cannot give the full salaries to their staff, they can at least give some amount; and when the schools fees “roll in”, they can pay the full amount.
Sema added that this year, not even 20% of fees have been cleared and ‘it is a big problem especially for small schools’.
Asked about the requisitioning of schools as quarantine centres, Sema responded that for “humanitarian cause, surely we will help”.
He however added that schools should be the last to be requisitioned; and if the schools are used as quarantine centres, there would be ‘apprehension among the people and the classes cannot go on’.
DNSU appeals for fees concession
The Dimapur Naga Students’ Union (DNSU) has appealed to all the private schools and colleges to offer concession of fees to students.
In a statement issued on Monday, the union stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has left citizens in distress, including financially.
“…it is the moral and social obligation of every sensible citizen to understand the situation and hardships of our fellow citizens on humanitarian ground. Therefore, the union requests the private schools and colleges to ponder and take this appeal with utmost importance by taking the grievances of the common peoples into consideration,” read the statement.
Further, the union stated that it has heard of some “private agencies” approaching some schools and colleges to collect names and money from students on the pretext of filling up scholarships forms.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs are yet to give directives to fill up the scholarship forms, it pointed out.
“…there were some technical issues in the past related to agencies and scholarship, which had created havoc between the students and agencies. Therefore, the union strictly warn those agencies to take proper precautionary measures before taking up the task,” it stated.
The DNSU directed “those erring agencies” to approach its office and sign the undertaking accepting complete responsibility for any discrepancies.