Kindergarten and bus operators struggle as parents refuse to pay fees

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by TMR FILE

KINDERGARTEN, pre-school and bus operators struggle to remain operational as some parents demand fees reduction or deferment due to the Movement Control Order (MCO).

A kindergarten operator based in Kuala Lumpur, who refused to be named, expressed that many operators have now received requests from parents to reduce their monthly fees during the MCO.

“The situation is divided. Some parents agree to pay the fees, while some parents argue with us on a daily basis that they are not obliged to pay the fees as the kids are not attending classes during MCO.

“We totally understand the situation, but we also urge parents to adopt a sense of understanding, as we do have other financial responsibilities including payments for teachers’ salaries, rental and transportation,” she said.

She also highlighted that most kindergartens in the private sector are smaller in size and have higher operational costs without any external support.

“This is different with kindergartens that are run by non-governmental or charitable organisations. But we are glad the government has included us in the extended Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package. So, this has been a big help for operators like us,” she added.

The operator also said her branch is currently conducting lessons through online platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom and WhatsApp.

Federation of School Bus Associations Malaysia (FSBAM) president Amali Munif Rahmat reportedly said the association is willing to negotiate with parents whose income are affected by the MCO as some parents refuse to pay the monthly fare.

“They do not understand that school bus operators have other fixed costs such as loans, while those with more than one bus must also pay their drivers,” an English daily reported him as saying.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs social policy research manager Wan Ya Shin noted that kindergartens and bus operators are currently facing the same situation as other sectors, with a future economy that is uncertain.

“We do not know how long this ‘new normal’ will be, therefore some sort of social protection would have to be expanded to pre- schools if the situation persists,” she said.

Last week, the Education Ministry assured that the reopening of schools after the MCO will be subject to advice from the Ministry of Health and the National Security Council.

The ministry also said it will make the announcement at least two weeks before schools are scheduled to reopen, so that parents will have enough time to prepare their children to go back to school.