Minutes of Meeting with Honorable Education Minister on 31-Aug, 5 PM
(Specific to concerns related to Vibgyor Group of Schools)
Aggrieved Parents (from Vibgyor School) attended the meeting called by the Honourable Education Minister and while arriving at the venue learnt that parents from 5-6 other schools have also come to meet Honourable Education Minister.The meeting was conducted in the conference room at Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Nrupathunga Road building and also attended by Commissioner of Public Instructions (IAS), Dr. K. G. Jagadeesha, Education Dept Officials (DDPIs, BEOs), Govt. appointed Advocate and many others. Vibgyor School representatives, Mr. Muneer (AGM – Operations, Bengaluru) and Mr. Roshan D’souza (Cluster Principal) also joined the meeting. Representatives from Presidency school, Chaitanya school, Vidya Niketan, Happy Valley and few others were also present. Overall, 50+ persons attended the meeting. The Honourable Education Minister – Shri Suresh Kumar presided over the meeting and it started on time. He heard grievances of representatives of all schools one by one.
Summary of Minutes (Specific to Vibgyor Group of Schools)
- Vibgyor School Management is requested and advised to re-instate access to all children immediately
- Vibgyor School to collect only tuition fee of AY 2019-2020 and no other fee for this academic year 2020-21 and to provide fee break-up as per rules and the same should be made available in the school website and notice board
- Vibgyor School to provide all payment options including bank details of the respective branches to make fee payment through RTGS/NEFT on monthly basis.
- Karnataka Education Department Officials would inspect all Vibgyor School branches and submit a report to the Education Minister at the earliest. Vibgyor School to submit detailed fee breakup to the DoPI and have the same uploaded on the school website and notice boards immediately.
- Honourable Education Minister would speak to the Hon. Law Minister and Advocate General to expedite hearing on all key writ petitions which are pending further hearing.
- Vibgyor school to convene a meeting with aggrieved parents asap and resolve the issues
Detailed Minutes (5 PM- 7:30 PM) On Concerns related to Vibgyor Group of Schools
Vibgyor Parents shared their issues of Fee Hike, Annual fee justification with respect to services offered and actually delivered, Annual and Tuition fee calculation methodology as per Karnataka rules, many other violations by school as per the current Fee Rules, Law of land and various circulars issued by Govt. time to time. Another parent shared issues like, no MRP on books, compulsorily buying books/stationary from school as part of Annual fee (where no clear breakup is provided), PTA structure not followed as per NCPCR guidelines, No annual fee to be charged till 5thstandard (as per Govt. rules) etc. Another parent highlighted the issue of students being are barred from online classes from 5-Aug onwards even when parents were ready to pay tution fee as per Govt. order. Parents also highlighted the issue of School harassing parents and the kids by denying access to online education and also discrimination against kids/parents who are raising their voice.
Parents mentioned that they approached various authorities in past e.g. Central Helpline, BEOs – All regions, DDPI – Shri Rajendra S, Principal Secretary – Shri Umashankar and mentioned that they would continue to fight for the cause till the justice is given.
Parents also mentioned that being responsible they are ready to pay Tuition Fee (as of last year) on monthly basis for which school is not agreeing and taking shelter of stay order obtained from high court. Honourable Education Minister asked Vibgyor representatives as to whether they were interested in parent’s/kid’s welfare or wished to take shelter of the stay order. Mr Roshan replied that they were for welfare of the parents and kids. Honourable Education Minister reminded Vibgyor to keep parents and kids in mind. He mentioned that parents’ demands are genuine and must be looked into by Vibgyor management with a sense of urgency.
Representatives from other schools also raised similar issues and were very vocal in their genuine concerns. Honourable Minister heard everyone with empathy and listed key demands from all parent representatives. He asked respective officials to share updates.
One of the BEO, South region shared below updates:
- He mentioned that they received several complaints from parents of children studying at Vibgyor Schools by email and via central helpline email id and telephone numbers published
- He and some of his counterparts visited the Vibgyor Schools or spoke to the School Management and issued a notice to the School Management for non-compliance. The School Management referred to a stay obtained by Association of Private Schools which stated that the Govt. should not take any coercive action till the next hearing
- The BEO(s) informed the parents of the stay obtained by Association of Private Schools and asked them to pay tuition fee alone as per 2019-20 structure as the government circular still holds good and the stay is for the Education Department to not take any coercive action
Vibgyor School Management responded the following:
- Mr. Roshan D’Souza, Cluster Principal, stated that the School published the fee structure to parents well before the start and impact of Covid-19 in India
- On being asked why the school is not following government circulars issued from April onwards, he stated that the Association of Private Schools had taken a stay from the court vide writ petition 7035/2020 and the court had directed the Education Department not to take any coercive action against the School
- He mentioned that school is aware of the Covid-19 situation. Also an Edubridge Scholarship scheme was launched for financially stressed parents and 1000+ parents have applied and school has provided financial assistance ranging from one installment waiver to Rs. 100,000 to help financially distressed parents tide over difficult times. He also mentioned that parents who had concerns on uploading their IT returns and Salary slips were later advised to even upload a word document with facts and figures instead of their salary slip/IT returns and even some of those parents have been offered scholarship
- Mr. Muneer, AGM Operations, Vibgyor Schools stated that following the initial meeting with parents, the online access was re-instated in case of all children that were reported or escalated to him
Vibgyor Parents responded to the response from Vibgyor School Management on request of Hon. Education Minister :
- Parents agreed that court vide writ petition 7035/2020 had directed the Education Department not to take any coercive action against the School but it did not give the right to the School to collect hiked annual fee and tuition fee as the government circular was still valid and also any right to take coercive action against students
- As an interim solution being responsible, parents suggested that instead of paying nothing, they are happy to pay un-hiked tuition fee alone of AY 2019-2020 and no other fee which is a mid-path. Honorable Education Minister too concurred citing this as a good suggestion given the gross violations to above rules
- It was mentioned that school is taking shield of court stay only on few points for every possible violation which itself is contempt of court order
- It was mentioned that scholarship scheme is a sham and discriminates among parents. There is no published guidelines that how one parent got only 10% of rebate while other parent got 60% rebate. It is created to divide parents so that school can continue to demand exorbitant fees even in future. School has also offered individual offer to some parents without applying for scholarship hence it seems Vibgyor management wishes to divide parents rather address genuine concerns. This move itself is quite unethical
- It was mentioned that fee structure of Vibgyor itself does not follow the 1995, 1999 and subsequent amendments and government notices and circulars till date in that the Term Fee (Vibgyor Calls it as annual fee) is not 10% of tuition fee but is much higher
Dr. K. G. Jagadeesha, I.A.S., Commissioner for Public Instruction
- stated that irrespective of the stay obtained by Vibgyor School from high court, The Karnataka Rules and subsequent amendments apply to the School and that the stay is only for the Department to NOT take any coercive action and therefore requested the School Management to co-operate and that the current behavior of non-compliance is unacceptable. He said that hike MUST be rolled back at the earliest
- stated that the School must have published detailed breakup of fee structure on school notice board and its website. If not done already, than, department has no other option than to act for the interest of parents
- stated that the Audit of the School does not come under their jurisdiction when parents requested to audit to understand expenses as claimed by schools
- instructed Karnataka Education Department Officials – BEO(s) & Others to inspect Vibgyor School branches within this week and submit a report
- assured that all the cases would be pursued in the court and that there is a genuine delay due to Covid-19 and that the department is flooded with 1000s of cases to respond to and officers have to even appear in court for several of these cases
- stated that to avoid the issue of payment vs non-payment of claims from parents and schools, if law permits the department to be an intermediary, then the Department can collect fees from parents and deposit into the Government Treasury and then disburse to the schools
- mentioned that he had received several complaints from many other schools as well and out of all issues, Vibgyor schools violations are more severe
- mentioned that 99% (or so) schools have adhered to Govt. directives but Vibgyor is one such school who is forcing full fee even with hike and we will look into it for sure and that the Department would put their objections to honorable court strongly
Government Advocate – Ms. Pramodini mentioned that the
- court is not functioning normally due to Covid-19 and delay in hearing is due to this, as there is no physical hearing of cases.
- case number WP 6185/2019 where private schools have challenged the amendments of Education Department, Govt. of Karnataka is being actively looked into by Govt. however there is delay due to court not functioning due to Covid situation. Court has prioritized hearing of cases pertaining to admissions. Education Minister has already requested Advocate General to take the case on priority basis.
- The Education Department was represented by the Assistant Advocate General himself along with self for many of the cases and the parents can be rest assured that the cases would be pursued.
Hon. Education Minister stated that
- Vibgyor School should not be in news for wrong reasons and that such an incident had happened few years back. He requested the School to abide by the rules and take appropriate steps to ensure trust from parents.
- the teachers of many budget Private School are left without salary for 5 months or more due to this pandemic. Many are forced to make a living by joining MNREGA schemes and as daily wage labourers or street vendors which is also of importance to the State. Govt. is working to address this issue on priority basis.
- the court is not functioning normally due to Covid-19 and there is a delay as there is no physical hearing of cases and he would speak to the Law Minister to get the hearing expedited and get Advocate General to pursue the writ petitions pending hearing at the court
- the fact that the children are of utmost priority and that the suggestion to pay un-hiked tuition fee alone of AY 2019-2020 is a good suggestion in the interim till the matter is pending a resolution and that all parties work towards a solution than confrontation.
- online access should not be denied to students and categorically mentioned that there is high court ruling for the same
- He further instructed Karnataka Education Department Officials to inspect all Vibgyor School branches and submit a report at the earliest
Vibgyor school blocked access to online classes for many kids on 5th August. Many parents came together and started making attempts to get justice. One may go through the actions taken by many parents at http://vicharpravah.com/parents-attempts-to-get-justice-on-school-fee/ . If you are one of the aggrieved parents than you may join the telegram group at https://t.me/joinchat/AiFHkBcrKpyDUJKNwGlBtg to help each other.