While we understanding your concern for the plight of the students and their parents/guardians, we would like to highlight certain pertinent issues in regard to the matter. We also share the same concerns as you but the fact is Private schools are also the victim of pandemic. We thus ask you to go through the details of this letter minutely so as to comprehend why Private Schools are always put in the wrong limelight.
The All Nagaland Private Schools’ Association (ANPSA) is a conglomeration of all private schools of Nagaland associated under one umbrella for the welfare of the Managements, Staff Members, Parents/Guardians, and students thus envisaging a common goal to extend quality education and to mitigate the differences among private schools as a common platform for the benefit of all. However, ANPSA cannot dictate policies which may infringe the autonomy of private schools. Moreover, ANPSA is not an extra-judicial organization, nor are any organizations extra-judicial for that matter. Therefore, we cannot order or dictate upon the private schools falling under our purview to waiver off fees as it is the internal matter of all private schools.
Being aware of the financial difficulties faced by the parents and guardians of the students, yet the private schools are also facing similar problems and multiple financial crunches even before the COVID-19 pandemic set in. Hereunder, we would to like to present our views on the matter:
A. Many private schools in Nagaland have already been giving a lot of concessions and scholarships to the underprivileged students even at the cost of huge financial losses of the schools. Most private schools face the additional problem of many parents not paying their wards’ fees throughout the year, with excuses of various economic reasons. Here also the private schools are at the receiving end without any assistance. Who is going to shoulder the added burdens of the private schools in such matter? What is the point in seeking fees waiver when previous dues are still not cleared, due to which many private schools are unable to pay their staff salaries or have been forced to shut down?
B. Presently while most of the private enterprises have totally shut down and ceased all activities, the private schools are still actively involved in conducting online classes including assignments, projects, PPTs, etc. so that the students are not disadvantaged academically, though, the task of conducting the online classes is much more challenging and requires more resources.
C. When we think logically, the admin, accounts and establishment offices of the private schools are actively functioning even in lockdown as these are essential for conducting online classes and day-to-day Online activities. Besides online classes the schools also have to bear huge expenditures in utilizing services of third-party apps and technical tools which are expensive. Schools also provide transportations to teachers for carrying out Online Classes.
One should also take into account the expenditures that the private schools are incurring while paying for the internet broadband connections and the maintenance and upkeep of the computers, electricity bills and other peripherals for which most of the private schools depend primarily on the regular payment of school fees. Another area of expenditure that we often overlook is the payment of regular salaries to the teachers and other staff members. The school buses may not be running but drivers and the handymen have to be paid, hostels may not be functioning but the wardens appointed for the hostels have to be paid. (N.B No Hostel is taking mess fees during lockdown). Similarly, every other staff member of the private schools needs to be paid their due salaries on a regular basis. Moreover, some of the private schools which do not have their own building premises have to pay for the rents of the school or hostel buildings.
D. Despite their quality contribution and employment opportunities for the society many private schools run in deficit and do not receive any funds from either the central or state governments. The private schools are ever ready to take up the humanitarian task provided the State Government allocates Financial Grant to private schools so that they can in turn pay the salaries of employees. It is also important to note that most of the students in Nagaland enjoy the privilege of receiving Merit, Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarships from the Government which could be soundly utilized by the students for the matter at present.
According to recent statistics published in the Morung Express media, Nagaland rates the highest unemployment in the whole of North East. On the contrary, when it comes to employment, Private Schools Sector in Nagaland generates the second highest after the State Government: creating various businesses and job opportunities which surely curtails the government’s employment problems. We are generating a major chunk of employment opportunities for many educated unemployed youths of the society and thus helping the state in boosting up its economy.
The private schools in Nagaland are always at the forefront of quality education even when running with meagre self-generated funds, mostly through fees, which is approx.10% in comparison to the entire budgetary allocation given to the Government Schools each year, still Private Schools are able to cater to majority of students of the state with quality education without any assistance.
Here, we advise you to kindly look into the loopholes in the functioning of the Government Schools as well, instead of always finding faults and discrepancies in Private Schools alone, especially at a time when the Private Schools are juggling pandemic burns and performing duties. Each year a lion’s share of approx. Rs 1 Lakh per student is allocated to government schools (in the form of mid-day meal, free uniforms, tuition fees etc.).
But we all know very well where all these funds end up. Our question to you and other students’ unions is why not keep a check on all these anomalies and why not question the government for their failure in providing quality education if your concerns are genuine (one will surely be skeptical of such bias actions, as an act of biasness is another or even worse form of Corruption),and why are you adamant upon creating a diversionary tactic of issuing diktats to private schools alone to lower or do away with fees, which is the basis of their survival? In fact, Student Union bodies should respect Private Schools as they were groomed and nurtured by them at one point of time. Besides, in a statement published by NSF on 30th June’21 via Nagaland Post, they had reflected on how Government should look into the matter and appreciated the Private Schools for waiving off school fees.
Also, the fee structure of private schools in Nagaland is miniscule when compared to other states’, yet many criticize the private schools in Nagaland but never raise fingers when exorbitant amounts of fees are demanded by private institutions outside Nagaland. Have you ever thought what will be the fate of education in Nagaland if the private schools stop operating? What would happen to all the students and their career? The private schools are in fact the Golden Goose of both the education sector and the economy of Nagaland. If you kill this Golden Goose, you will be doing so at the peril of a huge blunder which may not go down well in history.
Helen Keller rightly said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision!”Our request to WSSU and other Students Bodies is therefore to not lose sight of their vision and support the endeavour of Private Schools to promote Nagaland as an Educational Hub and Destination whereby our state will benefit in terms of inflow of tourism and economic income for every sector, if students start pouring in from other states provided quality of education and educational infrastructure are improved along with our added unique cultural biodiversity. This can only happen when Private Schools are encouraged and enough autonomy is given without any hindrance.
As mentioned above the Association feels that it is not wise to further ask its members to waiver off the School fees as desired by you as all private schools have their own prerogative and policies in fees structures, which cannot come under one blanket statement. Besides, we would also like you to reflect over our previous statement, published recently on the 11thof July’21 in various newspapers. We expect you to understand the core of the matter and analyze logically.
Dr. Andrew Ahoto Sema
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