Damodar Prasad Goyal, Founder President, Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan
The education sector, like all other sectors is in a quandary. Being a service sector, the schools all over the country have taken it in their stride and have started online teaching. It is a commendable job as teachers, parents and students are keeping the teaching and learning process to continue. With a little push and support from the Government the sector would do much better.
Schools are providing education, giving employment to a very large number of teachers and non-academic staff. Their salaries are being paid out of fee collection. Sudden outbreak of COVID 19 has created a catch 22 situation for schools. Parents are expecting waiver of fee for Lockdown period and staff has legitimate expectation for timely payment of salary. On the top of it, to ensure regular education, schools are conducting online classes which means school buildings are closed but not the classes.
The authorities directed schools to regularly pay salaries without any cut and at the same time they are asked to waive off fee. This kind of arrangement can only be possible for the Government as the RBI can pump the funds to them. If there is no water in reservoir, water cannot be supplied even for cattle. Government has announced two financial packages for industries, agriculture, banks, labour, etc.
It is also important to note that the schools may not be allowed to operate till the COVID 19 is not fully controlled as children are most vulnerable and social distancing cannot be maintained in schools. In such a situation, any temporary relief will not work. The Government should take practical view and steps to deal with the situation.
The government is protecting several sectors such as MSME and even banks. All agree that education is a priority but there are no measures announced by the centre, or the states.
The rent of the school building, EMIs for loans, salaries to teachers and non-teaching staff, repairs to buses and yearly maintenance, overall of furniture, repairs to the building, play courts, grounds, procuring stationary for the next session is a reality. Like all individuals and companies, schools too have bills and EMIs.