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Axe threat cry parents, school denies charge

Siliguri, Jan. 27: The guardians’ body today alleged that the authorities of Don Bosco School have asked many of its junior students to clear the revised fees or face suspension. The institution has denied the charge.

“We have specific information that about 50 to 60 students upto Class V of Don Bosco who have not paid the revised fees since April — when the school had increased the fees — were called by the authorities and asked to tell their parents that the dues should be paid by Friday or else they would be debarred from exams,” said Sandeepan Bhattacharjee, the president of the Guardians’ Forum of North Bengal. “The students were also told that they have to face suspension for two months or so (if the fees are not paid by then).”

The Forum that has been spearheading a movement against fee hike in English-medium schools presented the resolution adopted at the meeting held on December 16 with the school authorities in presence of two deputy directors of the state school education department. “The meeting had decided that the fee-hike issue is likely to be resolved by February 20 and in no way any staff of the schools should physically or mentally torture students who have not paid the increased fees,” Bhattacharjee said.

Father M.A. Joseph, the principal of Don Bosco, however, denied the allegation. “We have hardly 10-15 students who have not paid the revised fees. The allegations are totally baseless and nothing has been done from our end,” he said.

The Forum said the Don Bosco authorities had issued a circular on May 12, saying it was a private school and the basic salary of a teacher had been revised from Rs 12,755 to Rs 28,370 following the last pay commission recommendation in April last year. “They had also mentioned that the salary has to be realised from the fees alone,” Bhattacharjee said.

“However, the total salaries paid by the school as per Employees’ Provident Fund records is Rs 3,92,613 in March and Rs 4,21,500 in April last year, an increase of 0.75 per cent. Given the fees charged by the school, it shows an excess collection of Rs 15 lakh, which further contravenes the Supreme Court verdict that says that under Article 30 an institution cannot ‘profiteer’ nor ‘maladminister’. We want the state education department to ask the schools to slash down the fees,” Bhattacharjee said.

The principal, however, iterated that they had increased the teachers’ salaries following the pay commission recommendations. “We want to clarify that the provident fund challans do not display the total salaries paid to all teachers but the amount deposited at the provident fund office,” he said. “The total emoluments cannot be understood from these challans.”

On Monday, the Forum produced the PF challans of the school (photocopies are with The Telegraph) claiming that the increase in average salary of a teacher from March to April 2009 was Rs 48 and so the fee hike was not rational.

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