Schools, which are yet to recover from Covid-induced losses, got a rude shock on Friday with the Public Works Department (PWD) mandating them to obtain a ‘Building Structural Stability Certificate’ by paying 0.5 per cent of the building valuation.
In its latest circular, applicable to both old and new buildings owned by the schools, the department insisted that private schools pay the prescribed fees to the executive engineer of the department in every district while submitting applications seeking approval for a new language, additional sections at the school, PU and degree colleges.
Surprisingly, the order covers only private aided and unaided schools and colleges and is silent on government schools.
According to private school managements, this fee itself will run into several lakhs of rupees with each school expected to shell out fees ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh based on the value of the building.
Strangely, even schools operating out of rented buildings must obtain the certificate by paying the fee.
School managements across the state have expressed dissent against the government saying that the burden would only be passed on to parents in the form of higher fees.
D Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) said, “There is no provision for private schools to collect or increase the fees under any category. But such decisions by the government will force us to increase the fees steeply.”
Pointing to the distress that private schools are in, Shashi Kumar said, “A few of the school owners have even ended their lives due to severe losses during the pandemic. Others have shut schools after defaulting on bank loans. In this situation, how can the government enforce these unilateral decisions without consulting stakeholders?”
Echoing the concerns of the schools, KAMS and Recognised Unaided Private Schools Management Association (RUPSA) have submitted a representation to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Principal Secretary, PWD. The association has also questioned the double standards of the government which has not included government schools in its circular. “We do not know on what grounds the PWD has fixed this fee. Do the safety and security norms apply only to private schools?” questioned an office-bearer of the association, demanding immediate withdrawal of the
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