Gandhinagar: Quashing the July 16 order directing private schools not to charge any kind of fees during the Covid-19-induced lockdown, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the government that “if teaching was a noble and charitable cause”, why was it not sparing students of engineering and medical colleges.
It ordered the government and private educational institutes to hold talks and reach an amicable solution where every stakeholder’s interests were taken care of.
Disposing of four PILs filed by self-financing and private schools associations and federations against the Gujarat government’s no fee order, the bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J.B. Pardiwala also set aside the government order for returning the fees already collected.
“If teaching is a noble and charitable cause as stated by the government in its GR (government resolution), why the state does not take steps to to waive collection of tuition fees of colleges? Why should the waiver not be for all educational institutes, engineering and medical colleges,” the court asked.
It observed that as there was no alternate educational system in place in such a public health crisis, at this juncture, online teaching was the best alternative as education of children should continue for their well-being.
The court also held that managing education remotely was a tedious job and the efforts and hard work of the schools should not be ignored. As professionals, they must be paid for their time and service justly, it added.
The court also advised the educational institutes that they must be conscious of the economic instability faced by the students’ families and they needed to adopt a non-profit outlook for the next few months and be compassionate.
Disposing of the petitions, the HC ruled that it would be too much to say that private school shall not demand fees. At the same time, it was expected that the government and the schools federations sit across the table and arrive at some understanding with an open mind and an open heart to resolve all the issues amicably and following this, a fresh government resolution be issued.
The Gujarat government had issued an order on July 16 that the schools would not levy online education charges on parents during this academic year and the money so would have to be returned. It had also prohibited private schools from taking any type of fees from the students till the regular functioning resumed.
Further, those schools which had taken tuition fee and other fees from parents, during the period, would have to return this by adjusting it in the regular fees when they resumed functioning.