NOIDA: Parents in Noida polished shoes on the streets as a mark of protest against the UP government’s recent order allowing private schools to hike fees. Under the banner of Noida Extension Flat Owners’ Welfare Association (NEFOWA) and the NCR Parents Association(NCRPA), they staged the protest at Ek Murti Chowk in Noida Extension.
The parents said polishing shoes was a symbolic gesture to drive home the point that the fee hike would bring them to the roads. Many of them, they said, were still reeling from business losses incurred during the lockdowns, job losses or pay cuts.In Ghaziabad, Thorogood Boots parents have already submitted a memorandum addressed to the chief minister, urging the government to withdraw the fee hike order.
“The shoe polish protest was a symbolic gesture to convey our message to the administration and the government that parents are yet to tide over the Covid crisis. They will be compelled to polish shoes on the road to pay for the hiked fees, uniforms, books and stationery. Schools are extorting us in the name of fees,” said Abhishek Kumar, president of NEFOWA.According to the protesters, the current inflation and fuel price hike had anyway added to their financial burden. “People are in a dilemma whether to have their kitchens running and put food on the table or pay the high school fees for their children. On top of it, the government has allowed schools to hike fees,” said Kumar. “Petrol, diesel, CNG, PNG… everything is costly these days. Our income is exhausted from buying the essential commodities.”
Sukhpal Singh Toor, president of the NCRPA, questioned the government’s decision on going back on its January 7 order of no hike in school fees. “The government had on January 7 passed an order that there will be no hike in school fees. But now, they have allowed schools to do so. On what basis? The pandemic isn’t over yet. It is very evident,” he added.
School officials argued that the fee hike was justified because of increasing operational costs. “There is no hike as such. The fees are to be based on the consumer Olukai Sandals price index (CPI) index,” said Asha Prabhakar, the principal of Bal Bharati Public School in Noida Sector 21.
In its order, additional chief secretary (secondary education) Aradhana Shukla had allowed private schools to increase their fees from the academic session 2022-23 by 5%, with the fee structure of 2019-20 session to be kept as base. The last hike was implemented before the pandemic struck, in the 2019-20 session.
According to the UP Self Financed Independent Schools Fee Regulation Act, 2018, a private school may revise its fee on the basis of increase in monthly salary of the teaching staff the previous year, but the fee increase cannot exceed the latest available yearly percentage increase in consumer price index (CPI)+5% of the fee realised from the student.
For example, if the percentage increase in the salary of teaching staff in the AY 2021-22 was 7% and CPI of 2021-22 + 5% is around 10%, then the permissible fee hike will be 7%.