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Association can’t decide on fees: Bishop

He was reacting to a report about a meeting on Monday of the Anglo Indian school heads that discussed possible waivers
Bishop Paritosh Canning

Mita Mukherjee   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.06.20, 09:34 PM

The Church of North India (CNI) on Tuesday said the association of heads of Anglo Indian schools had no authority to decide fees or waivers and said the schools would withdraw their membership from the association in protest against its alleged interference.

“The Association of Heads of Anglo Indian Schools in India, West Bengal Branch, is not authorised to deal with matters relating to the fee structure of their schools. This is solely decided by the board (of the respective schools), duly approved by the chairman (of the board),” Reverend Paritosh Canning, the bishop of the Calcutta diocese of the CNI, wrote to The Telegraph on Tuesday.

The bishop is the chairman of the governing boards of all CNI schools in Calcutta.

He was reacting to a report in The Telegraph on Tuesday about a meeting of the association of Anglo Indian school heads that discussed possible waivers in school fees during the financial crisis triggered by the pandemic.

“I am really shocked to note the contents thereof,” the bishop wrote, adding: “The association… has no authority to comment regarding waiver of any fee payable, by our schools, which are governed directly by the Bishop of Calcutta, CNI.”

He added: “Our schools are hereby withdrawing their membership from the Association of Heads of Anglo -Indian Schools in India (AHAISI), West Bengal branch, with immediate effect....”

Nine CNI schools are members of the association. They include the two La Martiniere schools, St James’, Pratt Memorial, four branches of St Thomas’ and St Paul’s Mission School. Heads of at least two of these schools were present at Monday’s meeting that discussed the financial crisis because of non-payment of fees.

In a letter to the association, the bishop wrote: “The decision has been taken in view of your association's interference in the internal matters of our aforesaid schools.”

After the bishop released his statement, the Bengal branch of the association said in a statement to The Telegraph that it had discussed at its meeting on Monday how to address the concerns of parents about payment of student fees but the members had not arrived at any decision on waiver.

“The heading of the article – ‘Anglo Indian Schools offer relief on fees’ -– seems a bit misleading,” association president Father Rodney Borneo wrote on Tuesday.

“Yesterday’s (Monday) meeting of the executive committee, Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools in India, West Bengal, did not take any decision regarding giving any sort of waiver of any sort of fees. This Association does not have the power to take such decisions that are the sole purview of the Boards of these schools. We did discuss ways in which the concern of the parents can be addressed in a logical way and the same was to be reported to our respective managements,” Father Borneo’s letter said.

He added that “the only decision that was taken was that all efforts must be made to collect monthly tuition fees from our parents since without this source of revenue the schools will not be able to meet recurring expenditures like teachers’ salaries, etc”.

Speaking to The  Telegraph later, Father Borneo said although no decision was taken regarding the waiver of annual fees, “it was unanimously proposed that we (the association) would recommend the governing boards of the schools to logically reduce some fees that are redundant in the present situation as the schools are closed”.

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