On 2 May 2020, the government allowed private schools to conduct online classes. According to the order, the schools are not allowed to collect any fees other than the tuition fees. Hence, only schools conducting online classes can collect tuition fees.
The petitioner submitted that these private schools are misusing the order. They are coercing the parents to pay the tuition fees. Some of the schools claimed to conduct online classes. The petitioner opined that the schools have made a ruse to collect tuition fees from parents. Schools are sending e-mails and WhatsApp messages to parents to pay the fees.
The petitioner points out that Uttarakhand is a hilly and poor state. Due to this, several inhabitants lack access to the internet. Therefore, their children are not able to take part in online classes despite paying fees for the same. To ensure compliance with the order, the petitioner prayed issuance of appropriate orders.
The court, in this matter, emphasised on the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The act provides for free education by private schools to students who cannot afford it. This will ease the burden on the parents who cannot earn their livelihood currently. The court acknowledged that the schools incurred expenditures towards payment of staff salaries. Thereby pointing out that this was a time when the haves had to extend a helping hand to the have-nots.
The court ordered the appointment of district education and block development officers. If forced to pay the fees, the parents can address the complaints to these officers. Additionally, to spread awareness among all, the media should publicise the same. On receiving a complaint, the officers should take immediate action against those schools. The children who lack access to online classes are not expected to pay the fees. No schools should send emails or messages to demand tuition fees. The court has also asked the secretary of the department of education to submit a report about the same.
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