While schools and colleges in the urban areas have been conducting online classes to compensate the academic losses, those in rural and semi-urban areas are on the verge of closure. Non-payment of fees, lack of financial assistance from state government are among other things that have emerged as major challenges for them to sustain. Some of the unaffiliated schools have even completely shut their operations after the implementation of lockdown.
Nutan Convent School, in the outskirt of Patna having more than 200 students is closed since nation-wide lockdown in March. “We cannot conduct online classes as students, mostly from marginalised families, cannot afford to have digital gadgets and internet connectivity to attend online class,” says Munna, school principal. He is unsure of the number of students to resume school education once the situation normalises.
Ashish Chatterji, state president of the Society of Private School Directors, Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh (MP) highlights the plight of smaller schools. “Close to 15000 unaided, recognised schools in MP are on the verge of getting closed due to fund crunch and other issues,” says Chatterji.
“They must be allowed to resume offline classes immediately for the betterment of students residing in rural areas and resolve their financial crisis,” adds Chatterji.
Schools in tier I, II cities are relatively better positioned to manage with the online classes, says Viny Raj Modi, vice-president, Association of Unaided Private Schools, Madhya Pradesh. However, they are also grappling with the financial crisis as some of the parents have stopped paying fees since the closure of schools. “Only about 60% of students have deposited fees, which has made it difficult for us to manage the monthly expenses,” says Modi who is based in Bhopal.
Besides, unaided school associations in other states including Karnataka also facing crisis due to closure of offline classes. They warned of agitation if the government fails to give them compensation.