Parents plead for relief in international school fees | Sunday Observer

Parents plead for relief in international school fees

Parents of children in international schools seek school fees relief as their jobs are at risk due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Writing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa the hard-hit parents said small and medium size enterprises are under threat as a result of the drastic measures taken to curtail the effects of the pandemic.

The parents wrote:

“We thank you for the series of relief measures announced to safeguard the citizens of Sri Lanka to ensure uninterrupted day to day civilian life as the country battles the Covid -19 pandemic.

‘We the parents of international schools plead for your presidential intervention for urgent relief for the waiver of school fees during this difficult Coronavirus lockdown.

The outbreak of Covid -19 all over the world has disrupted political, social, economic, religious, financial and education structures.

“Small and medium sized enterprises and their employees are an essential part of the social and economic fabric of daily life worldwide. This vital role is now under threat from the unprecedented effect of Covid - 19. We face the real prospect that a global recession becomes a depression.

“World’s topmost economies such as USA, UK, Italy, China, France, Germany, Japan and others are on the verge of collapse. It has also revealed massive losses, both in output and jobs across all sectors. Developing countries like ours will be hard-hit, while poverty is on the rise.

“Furthermore, there is uncertainty and unpredictability concerning the spread of coronavirus. There is no surety, and still no one knows how far this pandemic would go and how long the impact would be. It is catastrophic and we have never seen anything like this.

“The human cost of the pandemic is immeasurable therefore, the parents of international schools and the international schools need cooperation and coordination, including help and fairness in overcoming the situation since the outbreak of Covid - 19 is severe on the economic structure. Wrong actions and policies taken may leave a severe impact on the sustainability of the schools plus the parents.

“We certainly understand that this is not a vacation period. The jobs of teachers are in operation, the classes are going on using different digital modes, assessments and interactions with parents keeping the children occupied. It would be humanely unfair for them not to be paid, they have families too.

“The teachers send information and assignments online. Teachers can only provide advice and some level of information . However, many parents are facing the challenge of educating their children at home, and at the same time juggling with full time jobs, adding to the chaos in the day to day house work. It is to keep up spirits and deal with the challenge of boredom, especially small kids who can get irritated in situations like this .

“Some parents are opting for homeschooling. However some parents believe the pressure of homeschooling the children is more on them than the teachers, especially when they have many students in different Grades.

Most parents don’t have the luxury of not working. Some parents aren’t working at all and they can make time to do this stuff, but for most of the working parents this is not an option to be happy about.

“Kids aged 5 to 13 need guidance in the new technology. End of the day we are parents, not teachers. We don’t have the art of introducing the knowledge of subjects to the kid’s brain. We believe that teachers should not assign work with daily deadlines to young students.

“Elite schools of Sri Lanka must understand that this is a worldwide emergency. The normal rules no longer apply.

“The elite schooling system in Sri Lanka has been earning large profits for several years and can now easily meet the needs of their staff and manage other expenses using the surplus amount for such sensitive times and definitely provide relief to parents who are finding it difficult to manage their finances due to the halt in economic activities caused by the nationwide lockdown.

“According to parents, though some elite schools encourage parents to contact them regarding any concerns about fees, the parents are given silly excuses by the principal rejecting the proposal indirectly.

“ The parents are writing to their schools to acknowledge what is being lost in the transition from in-person, hands-on learning to online instruction, such as interaction with teachers , access to school and facilities, and asking them to adjust the financial burden accordingly.

“Parents strongly believe that the international schools must, immediately absorb staff pay cuts like many other reputed companies in Sri Lanka - corporate / Medium and small sized business entities including export firms. Having understood the ramifications of Covid -19 , they are adopting drastic steps to implement cost cutting measures which include reducing of staff costs by discounting temporary staff/on probation, including the reduction of salaries /allowances and OT (30% to 60%) including “capping “ of CapEx and other fixed cost expenses to withstand the downward economic impact perceived to follow, which would threaten the core existence of a going concern.

“It is no secret that these elite school teachers (especially the foreigners ) enjoy comparatively high salaries as well as high standards of living provided with luxurious accommodation and free education for their children or substantial discount between 50% and 90% of the fees.

‘Dear President, you in your capacity as the President of this country, is able to intervene to offer relief to us parents who are facing a huge dilemma with regard to the inappropriate fees being levied during the months of Covid - 19 lockdown where our children have been unable to attend the classes of International Schools physically. We believe that you would take necessary steps to ensure the waiving of school fees during the lockdown time for the parents of children attending international schools.