This in turn threatened the future of teachers, school owners and children.
For almost two years, Nasera Khanam * has been unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. She was a teacher at a private school in the old city of Hyderabad, but since the pandemic hit, like many others, she has lost her job and her source of income. “My husband is a car driver. We live in a small rented house in a slum. My family depended on my salary apart from my husband’s low income. I have been facing a financial crisis since the pandemic hit. I lost my job and we are unable to afford the other expenses. Since the children are at home, they require devices for online lessons, but we are unable to accommodate their requests. Apart from that, we have to pay the rent for the house. The pandemic has changed everything and there is not enough money to provide for my family’s needs, such as paying the rent or supporting the education of our children, ”she shares. The school where Nasera worked had around 800 students and 22 salaried teachers.
This is not just the story of Nasera but of many others in the old city of Hyderabad, where the pandemic has laid waste to life and equipment and has forced many small private schools to close as they do not were unable to bear the running costs of the institution. Many of these schools would have an enrollment of around 200 to 500 students, with around 20 to 30 students per class. Their closure, in turn, put the future of teachers, school owners and children at risk.
Schools forced to close their shutters
While the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down in the near future, several private educational institutions say they have no choice but to close their shutters, as many can no longer meet the costs of operation as pay the rent, bills and salaries of their teachers. It also forced many teachers from these schools, who were made redundant, to take on odd jobs in order to earn a living.
Speaking to TNM, Fazal Ur Rehman Khurram, head of the joint action committee of private institutions and owner of a private high school, said: “At least 200 private schools, including 80 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools in the old town. town have closed due to the pandemic, and many teachers have lost their jobs. School principals or correspondents were unable to afford the exorbitant rents, commercial electricity and water bills, teacher salaries and other expenses. This is the reason why several recognized schools have been closed and many are on the verge of closing. “
Pointing out that most schools were low-cost, low-budget schools, with students also from poorer families, he added: “The future of teachers and students is at stake. They are facing a challenge. heavy situation. In most cases, male teachers are forced to do odd jobs. Many of them have started grocery stores for a living. Things are worse for female teachers because they don’t have as much freedom as men to do odd jobs or other livelihoods. “When restrictions ease, school correspondents fear they will have to pay money for building maintenance and repair work,” says Fazal. He hopes normalcy will return soon, so that the state government will allow educational institutions to open.
Echoing the same thing, the president of the Federation of Private High Tech Schools, Viquar Ahmed Khaled, who himself also owns a private school, said: “Teachers and correspondents face many difficulties. Many parents find it difficult to make online lessons easier for their children, citing the lack of devices. If a family has only one cell phone, it will not be enough for their two children for online lessons. As a result, they are naturally unwilling to pay the fees for the online courses. “
No state government relief
School principals demand that the state government step in to offer concessions and exemptions on the various taxes that must be paid. “It is the need of the hour for the state government to offer concessions to these schools, so that the burden is reduced. Despite the financial crisis and the problems with tuition fees, some school principals, including me, are paying out of our own pockets to relieve the teachers a bit and pay them part of their salary, but that is not enough. ”Khaled said. mentionned.
While the government has provided 2,000 rupees for each teacher and non-teaching staff, in addition to 25 kilos of fine rice each month, tied to their ration or Aadhar cards, beneficiaries say this is woefully insufficient.
Mohd Anwar, president of community schools, who works with slum children to ensure their basic education, said: “Parents of children in many of these schools are daily bets and come from low income groups. They are not able to afford the fees. The government should come to the aid of these schools, which are going through a difficult and trying time, as this would also help the children in the long run. “
On condition of anonymity, a school correspondent said: “We are going through a difficult period in our life. We want normalcy to return, so that we can get back on our feet. If things don’t improve quickly, we’ll also be forced to do odd jobs like our teachers. The government should come to our aid because many of us are the breadwinners. “
Many parents are also worried about their children’s future and say that the lack of physical classes leads to behavioral changes in their children due to the lack of in-person contact with their peer group, and even forces many to interrupt their studies. Speaking to TNM, a parent said: “If educational institutions continue to close, it will affect the whole of society, as schools play a vital role in building and shaping the community.”
* Name changed
Wajeed Ullah Khan is a Hyderabad-based freelance journalist who writes primarily on issues related to the Old City. He can be contacted at [email protected]