Schools up in arms over govt. demand for sports fees

A circular issued to government, aided, and unaided schools has principals and management members bewildered as they have been asked to pay sports fees for two academic years – the period when physical classes for the most part had been cancelled and all activities had come to an abrupt halt due to the pandemic.

The Department of Public Instruction has asked all school managements to pay ₹5 per child for students in Classes VI and VII, and ₹15 for those in Classes VII, IX, and X. The circular issued by the Physical Education (Director) stated that schools should pay fees for 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years as well as pending dues if any for 2019-2020.

School managements, many of whom are under financial constraints, are up in arms as they were allowed to only collect tuition fees for the 2020-2021 academic year and had to provide a discount on tuition fees.

The Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) has demanded that the government roll back the order. “We are barely able to sustain conducting academic activities this academic year and the department wants to conduct sports fees. In fact we don’t think any sports activities will be conducted this academic year,” said D. Shashi Kumar.

A head of a private school in North Bengaluru said that the school had to let go of all its physical educators in June 2020.

“On what grounds do we ask the parents to pay these fees? How can we charge for sports without conducting any physical activity?” she said.

However, Vishal R., Commissioner for Public Instruction, said that while co-curricular activities in schools were banned, sports activities had not been banned. “All games do not have to be played in close contact,” he said. He added that the funds would be used to buy equipment and improve sports infrastructure at the taluk level in schools that have larger student intake.

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