Nagaland private schools in dire straits; urges govt. to resume classes in phased manner
Dimapur, July 14 (EMN): The All Nagaland Private Schools’ Association (ANPSA) has appealed to the state government to reopen schools in a phased manner, starting with classes 8, 10 and 12, reasoning that students of these classes have to write board examinations.
In a representation to the chief minister, the association expressed the need to resume classes citing limitations of online classes due to slow internet connection, lack of gadgets, inability of some parents to help their children, no social interaction and difficulty in effective assessment of students.
‘There is an age-appropriate time for learning. Now, we are facing almost two years of academic loss that may be irrecoverable and have serious long term negative effects for the State. So every effort should be made to open schools as soon as possible,’ it stated.
Many schools saddled with debt
The association further expressed concern over “very precarious” financial status of private schools due to non-payment of fees by many despite giving huge concessions to the economically poor and needy students. Because of this, it said many schools have incurred heavy debt and could be forced to close down if pushed to the edge.
Private schools in Nagaland are totally dependent on school fees for functioning but in many schools, more than 50% of students have not paid fees and many have left in the past academic year without paying any fees, it said.
The ANPSA stated that governments of many states had paid 25% fees of students studying in unaided private schools but not in Nagaland. It added that many private schools in the state had waived off all transportation and hostel fees despite additional expenses the institutions had to make on providing internet data, Wi-Fi facilities, equipment for teachers, conveyance of faculty, and installation of materials related to Covid SOPs.
Maintaining that most schools in the state charge less fees compared to other states, it said loss incurred from non payment of fees and discount provided to deserving parents is much more than savings on unutilised facilities.
On uniform fee waiver, the association said it’s not viable as financial liabilities differ from school to school and that many people who had lost their jobs and income during the pandemic couldn’t be treated at par those who continue to get full pay.
“If uniform fee waivers are imposed, the question of many schools surviving till the end of the year will be doubtful,” it stated.
Regarding government’s advisory to private schools not to withhold results of students even without payment of fees, it asked if it is justified for those who are in the position to pay but refuse to. It added that “most of the poor understand the struggle of teachers and pay the fees, while some of those who can afford, fail to pay the fees”.
“The pandemic is expected to continue even next year and many schools may have to close down, properties sold or facilities used for other purposes because of financial constraints. Can society risk the future of students by creating such a situation?” it stated.
While encouraging private schools to be compassionate
Stating that private schools have been considerate to students since the outbreak of the pandemic by providing learning materials and facilitating their appearing in examinations in spite of a huge backlog of fees, the association said schools and educators have been made to suffer and criticised, forget about appreciation.
It stated that private schools “will continue to use their discretion to alleviate the sufferings of the economically poor and needy by giving concessions within their capacity”.
The association has also appealed to the government to provide financial assistance via direct benefit transfer to needy parents for the education of their children.
“We appeal to the government and society to understand that education is an investment rather than an expenditure. Any decision on education of children should be based on long-term planning rather than short-term goals,” it added.