P’kula schools unable to pay salaries as parents default on submitting school fee

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Chandigarh : IT IS the second day of a new month, but unlike always, Mukta Singla (34) is unsure of when her salary will reach her. The single mother of a three-year-old and a teacher by profession, she has been on her job everyday even since the lockdown came into force, but did not know she will be rewarded like this. Several parents have defaulted on submitting school fees. This comes in the wake of an order by the Haryana education board, directing that schools can only ask for the tuition fee on a monthly basis. However, many parents have been unwilling to submit even that amount. Between juggling teaching via her smart phone and looking after her kid, Mukta has had no time to assess what has been going outside. “I never expected the parents of our students to not pay their dues. If we as teachers are doing our jobs, parents should do theirs too,” she said.

This is the case with several other teachers from different schools, where salaries have not been credited yet. Even though Mukta remains hopeful of getting her salary by the second week, the delay has caused a huge dent in her life. “I have cut back my expenditure to make the last month’s salary last a little longer,” she added. In a letter sent to the director general of school education of Haryana, the Panchkula public schools association has highlighted that very few parents have come forward to deposit the fees yet. It also stated that schools have received only 10 per cent of the total fee amount they were to receive. “Even those who can easily pay are consciously imagining the lockdown period as a fee-free period”, stated the letter. “Most Panchkula schools have a very basic fee structure and all the fee goes towards paying teachers’ salaries. The schools rarely have any money reserves to pay so many salaries. We depend on monthly fees for most of the work,” said Piyush Punj, Finance secretary of the association.

“The norms laid by the government insist that only tuition fee be paid but that amounts to so little that it can only pay the salaries of teachers and not other employees. Gardeners and other lower staff also work in huge numbers in schools and all of them are solely dependent on salaries from us. Even parents who can easily pay the fee are not paying as there is no deadline,” said Jivtesh Garg, Director of Hall Mark School. Further pointing out loopholes in the government’s policy, he said, “Other than electricity all other expenses are still ongoing. The government has denied charging the transportation fee. But it’s only the buses that are not running saving 30 per cent of expenses that goes towards fuel. The remaining which includes insurances, taxes, salaries of conductors and drivers are yet to be paid. Even paying basic salaries has become a big challenge.” (Source : Indian Express)

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