GUWAHATI, April 9 - Even as schools are struggling to maintain the academic continuity in the midst of the lockdown, many private schools in the State have been found coercing parents to deposit the fees of their wards, forcing the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) to intervene with specific guidelines.
ASCPCR, taking strong exception to the developments, has asked all the deputy commissioners (DCs) of the State to ensure forthwith that private schools adopt a �soft policy� so long the lockdown is in place and to take action against erring schools.
In response to the letter issued by the ASCPCR Chairperson, a number of DCs have already taken up the matter with the managements of private schools.
�We have asked the schools not to practise such a harsh policy keeping in view the existing scenario where COVIDF-19 has taken a toll on everyone�s life. There are parents who were pressurised to pay the school fees for their wards, which is so unjust in the current context,� ASCPCR Chairperson Dr Sunita Changkakoti told The Assam Tribune.
Asked whether the Commission is also pursuing the possibility of waiving the school fees in view of the lockdown, Changkakoti said, �At this point of time we have not categorically said anything as such. But all we want from the schools is that they adopt a soft policy.�
Demands for waiver of school fees have been raised in different states including New Delhi with many even seeking intervention of the Union Human Resource Development Ministry.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) upon receipt of a representation from child rights activist Subir Roy � in which he demanded waiver of the monthly fees of the schools in Cachar due to the prevailing extraordinary circumstances of the worldwide spread of COVID-19 and the countrywide lockdown � has asked the Cachar DC to intervene in the matter so that �no child becomes victim of undue pressure or stress concerning their education�.
�Due to the economic breakdown, many parents are not in a position to bear the school fees of their children,� Roy said.
�Appropriate directions to all such schools in your district may be issued in the best interest of the children. An action taken report in this regard may be shared with the Commission in consultation with the complainant,� the letter issued by the NCPCR Chairperson stated.
�...Utmost concern and caution should be exercised by all schools and authorities concerned to minimise any kind of stress, confusion and chaos which can adversely impact mental health of the children especially related to their schooling and education,� the letter pointed out.