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Is This The Best Himachal’s Education Minister Can do to Regulate Private Schools, Make Them Obey Govt Orders?

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Suresh bhardwaj

Shimla-On 27th March 2020, Suresh Bhardwaj, the Education Minister of Himachal Pradesh, had asked the private schools to stop compelling parents to deposit fees during the state-wide curfew and lockdown. He asked them to extend the last dates for depositing fees.

He had made this statement after the Director of Higher Education, Himachal Pradesh, Dr Amarjeet Sharma, confirmed that it has come to the notice of the department that some private schools functioning in the state had fixed the last date for submission of school fees as of March 30th, 2020.

But parent continued to and are still receiving receive messages from schools asking them to deposit the fees. Messages sent to parents said the “bill” should be paid by 5th May 2020. This bill amounts to over Rs 26,000 for three months.

In addition to tuition fee, the bill included annual charges, fees for computer, skating, music, Taekwando, Dance, smart class, and miscellaneous charges.

The Student-Parent forum today wrote a letter to the Education Minister in which it said that on April 24, one of these schools sent messages to parents to pay the “bill” for March, April, and May months online. Earlier, in March, with a fee hike of eight percent, the school had sent a message for paying Rs. 19,000, the forum said. Now, the new message received on April 24 said that parents will have to pay about 26,000. This fee hike of 15 percent in addition to the previous hike of eight percent during such a crisis has bewildered the parents, the forum said.

Moreover, the forum expressed shock over the fact that these schools are also billing parents for activities/facilities skating, music, Taekwando, Dance, smart class etc. The schools are closed for a month now so some charges should not apply for this period. 

The forum said that private schools have already made a hike of eight to twenty percent in their “bills”. Parents of about 70 percent children enrolled in Himachal’s 2712 private schools are employed as outsource workers, labourers, small-scale shopkeepers, taxi drivers, small businesses, hotel operators etc., the forum said.

Due to the lockdown, sources of income of these parents are badly hit. Paying hefty fees of schools during the lockdown has become a reason for distress for the parents, the forum said. No reason can justify hiking fees during such a time of crisis and compelling parents to pay their “bills” . Even though the government has asked them to extend the lasts dates for paying “school bills”, these schools are sending desperate messages.

If we rewind a little, we find that the Education Directorate has directed private schools as many as three times to not make any fee hikes without fulfilling certain conditions. First notification in this regard was issued on December 5, second on January 18, and third on March 12.

As per the forum, the schools were directed to not take decision on fee hike without conducting a general house. But the schools made fee hikes of upto 20 percent by defying this order. The Department did not take any action as always.  The Directorate had also ordered these schools to adjust excess fee charged during the last year in the bills of current year. Nothing was adjusted, the forum said.

The forum has raised question over the insensitivity of these schools which are indifferent to COVID-19 crisis and lockdown and financial problems majority of parents are facing currently. In its letter, the Student-Parent forum requested the Education Minister to intervene and implement the notifications issued by the Education Directorate.

By Saturday evening, what Education Minister could do is tell the parents that there is nothing that he could do about the messages being sent to parents to pay the “bills” but he could only save them from paying a penalty for delayed payment of fees.

The Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Act is in force, but the State Government doesn’t seem to be capable of giving even a slap on the wrist of such private schools. The question is; Is this the best that the Education Minister can do to regulate and tighten the noose around private schools blatantly defying its orders?

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Himachal Records 16 COVID-19 Deaths Including a 16-Year-Old – Highest in a Day This Year

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COVID-19 update himachal pradesh april 20

Shimla-The fatality rate due to the COVID-19 spread is witnessing a sharp increase in Himachal Pradesh. Yesterday, the state had reported 13 COVID-19 deaths, but today the fatalities rose to 16 in a day. A total of 1340 new cases were recorded today till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest six deaths, followed by Shimla (4), and Una (3).

Find more details about the deceased below:

Highest covid 19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The infection claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl in Una district. According to the state health department’s official report, she developed severe pneumonia and was a patient of Diabetes Mellitus Type-1. Other deceased aged between 36-78 years.

Earlier today, the Deputy Commissioner of Una, Raghav Sharma, had issued orders to keep markets/shops closed on Sundays and issued timings for the remaining days. A prohibition was imposed on all sorts of events and social gatherings. The orders would come into effect from April 22, 2021.

Also Read: Himachal: Govt Announces More Restrictive Measures, DC Una Closes Shops on Sundays, Issues Timing for Other Days

Further, Chief Minister Jairam today announced more restrictive measures as an attempt to contain the spread (Watch Video Below).

Solan district reported the highest 265 cases, followed by Una (173), Shimla (164) and Sirmaur (155).

Find more district-wise details below:

Himachal pradesh daily covid-19 report april 20

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Himachal: Govt Announces More Restrictive Measures, DC Una Closes Shops on Sundays, Issues Timing for Other Days

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hp govt's new restrictions in himachal pradesh

Una-Deputy Commissioner of Una district, Raghav Sharma, has issued an order for the imposition of new restrictive measures from April 22, 2021, in wake of the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the district. The DC also expressed fear of community spread and ordered that markets would remain closed on Sundays in both rural and urban areas of the district.

However, these orders would not apply to drug stores, hotels, dhabas, and restaurants. Further, shops selling dairy, vegetables, fruits and meat would also remain open on Sundays from 7 am to 8 pm. Saloons and barber shops would also be allowed to operate on Sunday between 9 am to 6 pm.

All shops would remain open from Monday to Saturday within the given time period, which is 7 am to 8 pm for fruit, vegetable, meat, and dairy shops, and 9 am to 6 pm for saloons/barber shops, and 9 am to 6 pm for remaining shops.

Also Read: With Neighboring States Going to Curfew, Himachal’s Tourism Sector Again Comes to a Halt

A prohibition has been imposed on the organization of all sort of cultural, religious, political, sports and other gatherings in the district. For attending marriages and funerals, the permission of the district administration would be required.

Today, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also told the media that the number of people allowed in social gatherings, like marriages, has been reduced to 50 for both indoors and outdoors.

For government employees, working days have been reduced to five days a week and staff capacity to 50 percent. Public transport would operate with only 50 percent capacity.

For marriages or any sort of other social, cultural, political events, prior permission of one week would have to be obtained by applying online at the official portal.

The inter-state transport would remain operational, the government said. People returning from high load states were advised to carry COVID-19 negative reports and obey home-quarantine rules strictly.

Orders for Government Employees from Department of Personnel

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COVID-19 Vaccination in India to Open for All Aged Above 18 Years in 3rd Phase: Govt

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All above 18 in india eligible for covid-19 vaccination

New Delhi-From May 1, 2021, everyone above the age of 18 would be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination, the Government of India decided today. As per the government, the decision has been taken as a good amount of coverage of vulnerable groups is expected by 30th April.

Pertinent to mention that a demand was being raised to open vaccination for all amid the peaking second wave of the pandemic which is proving to be deadlier than the first one. On Sunday, former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, had also written to Prime Minister Narender Modi to be more flexible in deciding eligibility for vaccination as it was the only hope. He had pointed out that when we look at the percentage of population instead of the absolute numbers, we see that only a small fraction has been covered so far. He had also suggested reworking on the current model adopted by the government. 

Singh had asked the Prime Minister to allow states to define who qualifies as a ‘frontline worker’.  Many states wanted to designate bus and taxi drivers, school teachers, municipal and panchayat staff, and even lawyers as frontline workers to make them eligible for vaccination even if they are below the requisite 45 years of age.

Phase-I of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy was launched on 16th January 2021, prioritizing vaccination of Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs). Phase-II was initiated from 1st March 2021, focusing on the most vulnerable i.e. all people above 45 years of age, accounting for more than 80% of Covid mortality in the country. The private sector was also roped in to augment capacity.

So far, Emergency Use Authorisation has been granted to two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech), and a third vaccine (Sputnik) that while presently manufactured abroad will eventually be manufactured in India, the GoI said.

The government said that in its Phase-III, the National Vaccine Strategy aims at liberalised vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage, the GoI said. This would augment vaccine production as well as availability, incentivising vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international. It would also make pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible, allowing all stakeholders the flexibility to customise to local needs and dynamics, the GoI said.

The main elements of the Phase 3 Strategy of the National Covid-19 Vaccination program that would come in effect from 1st May 2021

(i)      Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to Govt. of India and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to State Govts. and in the open market (hereinafter referred to as other than Govt. of India channel).

 (ii)    Manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to State Govts. and in the open market, before 1st May 2021. Based on this price, State governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for other than Govt. of India channel. Private Vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18.

(iii)    Vaccination will continue as before in Govt. of India vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined earlier i.e. Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and all people above 45 years of age.

(iv)    All vaccination (through Govt. of India and Other than Govt. of India channel) would be part of the National Vaccination Programme, and mandated to follow all protocol such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to AEFI reporting and all other prescribed norms. Stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres will also have to be reported in real-time.

(v)     The division of vaccine supply 50% to Govt. of India and 50% to other than Govt. of India channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country. However, the Government of India will allow the imported fully ready to use vaccines to be entirely utilized in the other than Govt. of India channel.

(vi)    Govt. of India, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) & performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criterion and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, State-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the States adequately in advance.

(vii) The Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.

(viii) This policy would come into effect from 1st May 2021 and will be reviewed from time to time.

Feature Photo: ivvndiaz/unsplash

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