The state government on Friday directed all private schools to collect only 70% of the tuition fee charged last year for the current academic session in view of the pandemic, settling the thorny issue that had become a bone of contention between school managements and parents.
The decision is applicable to all private schools, including those affiliated with CBSE, ICSE and international schools.
The Primary and Secondary Education Department also instructed schools not to collect fees in any other form (development fees, transportation fees, special amenities fees) and also refund 30% of the amount if fee has already been collected or adjust it with the 2021-22 academic year.
Parents' associations welcomed the government order and withdrew the planned protest on Sunday.
S Suresh Kumar, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, said "parents will be given the option of paying the fees in two installments".
"The state government has the authority to regulate the fees under the Karnataka Education Act 1983 and also under certain clauses in the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897. This has also been upheld by the Karnataka High Court in its recent order," he said.
Sources in the department revealed to DH that the decision to reduce the fee was taken after consulting the Chief Minister following pressure from various parents' associations who have been demanding the intervention of the state government in the matter.
S R Umashankar, Principal Secretary of the Department of Primary and Secondary Education, said, "The tuition fee of school managements would cover the salaries of their teaching and non-teaching staff and also included library and sports fee."
He said in the current academic year, "schools would not be allowed to take donations or charge the additional fees for extracurricular activities such as transportation, swimming fees etc..."
Suresh Kumar justified the decision stating that schools did not conduct regular classes from June to December 2020, which reduced a lot of their recurring expenditure.
"The decision was taken after the Commissioner for Public Instruction (CPI) had several rounds of meetings with different stakeholders. The report submitted by the commissioner and recommendation by the principal secretary was placed before the Chief Minister," said Suresh Kumar.