The Calcutta diocese of the Church of North India has said if its schools “are forced to reduce their fees further, it may lead to non-disbursement of salary and ultimately result in the closure” of the institutions.
The CNI diocese flagged the issue in a letter to the chief minister on Monday.
The letter emerged in the public domain on Tuesday evening, hours after the CNI allowed its schools to return to the association of heads of Anglo-Indian schools that had proposed certain concessions to ease the burden on parents.
The three-page letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee was written by Reverend Paritosh Canning, the bishop of the CNI’s Calcutta Diocese.
“If the schools that have already cut down heavily on expense heads related to school programmes are forced to reduce their fees further, it may lead to non-disbursement of salary and ultimately result in the closure of our schools, not only affecting the livelihood of the teachers and the non-teaching staff but also the future of thousands of children,” Bishop Canning has said.
In another letter dated June 16, the bishop wrote to the honorary secretary of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools of India, Bengal branch, the nine schools that had quit the association last week after it proposed waiver of “certain fees” would return to its fold.
The CNI referred to a letter that the Anglo-Indian school heads’ association had sent on June 12 requesting it to reconsider the decision of its schools to withdraw from the association.
But no principal or member of the CNI’s Calcutta diocese “will associate themselves with the executive committee or any other committee of the association”, the bishop’s letter on Tuesday added.
In the letter to the chief minister, the bishop said 10 of its schools were “unaided” and three received only dearness allowance for their staff from the government.
All 13 have “complied with your (the chief minister’s) request… with regard to non-enhancement of school fees for the academic year 2020-2021”, he said.
The CNI, the bishop said, has been paying “salary and wages to all our staff members as per the state government norms and most of the schools have already implemented the Sixth Pay Commission scales from January 2020”.
Some schools “had intended” to raise salaries from April and had “budgeted for the increase” in school fees. The “tuition fee alone is no longer sufficient to meet the payment of salaries and wages to the staff”.
The letter says most schools are “150 to 225 years old” and the upkeep of these buildings entails “huge expenses”. The schools have suffered “huge damages” because of Cyclone Amphan and require “urgent repairs and restoration”, according to the letter.
The bishop has reminded the chief minister that “our teachers are regularly taking online classes since April” with “great sincerity and dedication” beyond their normal working hours.
“We are minority Christian missionary institutions and therefore, principally we do not burden our parents with any unnecessary fees in order to make a profit,” Bishop Canning said in the letter to the chief minister.