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Parents give loan to teachers

Siliguri, June 13: Guardians of Siliguri Hindi High School today provided interest-free loans to 14 contractual teachers who hadn’t been given salaries for three months because of the parents’ refusal to pay increased fees.

An amount of around Rs 2.75 lakh was raised by about 275 guardians who donated Rs 1,000 each to the corpus fund.

The government-aided school had in January increased the fees from Rs 1,300 to Rs 1,900 for existing students and from Rs 5,000 to Rs 5,525 for the newly admitted children to Class VI for the 2014-2015 academic session.

Sandipan Bhattacharya, the working president of the Siliguri Hindi High School Guardians’ Committee, said Rs 1.78 lakh had been given to the 14 contractual teachers.

“The school management has not paid salaries to the contractual teachers for the past three months even though they have been continuously rendering their services. Each teacher has got a sum equivalent to two months of his/her salaries and an additional Rs 3,000 as festival bonus. While the teachers do not have to pay back the money received as the bonus, they will have to refund the amounts equivalent to the salaries without interest,” said Bhattacharya.

“After distributing Rs 1.78 lakh to the teachers, around Rs 97,000 is left with us. On June 17, we will provide the remaining amount to the 14 teachers,” he added.

The school had hiked the fees claiming it was a minority institution. But the guardians disputed the claim and said the school didn’t figure in the list of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions and the state government’s list of minority schools.

“A non-minority government-aided school can collect only an annual fee of Rs 240 as stipulated by the state government,” said Bhattacharya.

The Siliguri Hindi High School had charged much higher fees even before the hike and the parents couldn’t explain why they had paid the amounts. The school has 1,400 students from Class VI to Class XII and 10 government-approved teachers.

The contractual teachers said the loans given by the guardians were of great help in their times of financial constraints.

“We have not got the salaries for the past three months. Some of us are the only earning members of our families and we have been left with no option but to take loans on interest. Today, the guardians provided us with financial assistance and we are grateful to them. We will refund the amount as soon as we get our salaries,” said Pankaj Gupta, a contractual teacher of the school.

Sitaram Dalmiya, a member of the school managing committee, said the “collection of money” was “illegal”.

“The whole process of collection of money from guardians and distribution to contractual teachers is illegal. We are a minority school and can raise the fees arbitrarily according to the expenses of the school. The fee of Rs 240 that is being collected from the students is not enough to meet the maintenance work and foot electricity bills of the school let alone pay the salaries of the teachers,” said Dalmiya.