DATE OF RELEASE: 21 APRIL 2020
FOMCA has been receiving a lot of complaints and enquiries on education institution as well as transport monthly fees. The education institution ranges from kindergarten, day care, private schools and home schooling. Parents are hoping that the fees would be waived as most of them are not working and finding it difficult to make ends meet due to COVID 10 pandemic and Movement Control Order (MCO).
Some of these institutions are receiving aid from the Stimulus Package announced by our Prime Minister which is also known as Prihatin. Those occupying rented premises have been given deferment in rental and loans too. Besides that, since these institutions are not operating in full, they will be minimising the operation costs. If they charge the parents full amount, is it considered as profiteering?
Parents having their kids under their watchful eyes find it difficult to teach them as the syllabus have changed and the methods of approach have differed over time. The Education minister recently announced that not many parents have computers or internet at home to access online learning. To couple with that, some parents are not IT savvy making the situation more difficult. But some kindergartens are offering online education for three years old. These toddlers are finding it hard to grasp the lesson as many are not able to read unless coached personally. Parents feel that if they were to be charged should be minimal.
The Education Ministry should come up with a precise guideline that can be followed by all these institutions. The structure of payment can be formulated and can act as a guidelines. Besides that, the Ministry of Finance can assert to aid the schools so not too put financial pressure on the parents as many of them are going through tough time due to MCO. Utilities companies can do their part by waiving the bills or at least charge them at a minimal rate.
Some parents complained that some kindergarten promised to have extended schooling hours during the school holidays too. This should be given as an option and not to make a blanket practise for all kids. The operators of education institutions are bound by the guidelines stipulated by MOE and as such, must follow the schooling hours structured by MOE. These institutions should not charge the parents the full amount of fee as some parents do not agree to the condition given.
It is important that parents as well as kindergarten operators adopt a sense of understanding and empathy towards one another during this challenging time.
FOMCA also advises these institutions not to charge full amount. Fees should be reduced as we believe any payment for a service not rendered; the consumers have the right not to pay. For service not rendered during the stipulated time, a consumer is entitled for a refund if he has paid in advance.
Similarly, transporters ferrying kids to the respective institutions should not charge their passengers full amount for the duration they have not provided the services. They should bear in mind that everyone is affected by the MCO, so they have a social obligation to assist the passengers in time of tribulation. Their operational cost for them is also minimal.
FOMCA strongly believes that both parties – educational institutions and parents should negotiate and be flexible in reaching a win-win solution acceptable to both parties. Consumers also can file a case against these institutions to Consumer Tribunal under Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP).
Chief Operation Officer
FEDERATION OF MALAYSIAN CONSUMERS ASSOCIATIONS (FOMCA)
GABUNGAN PERSATUAN-PERSATUAN PENGGUNA MALAYSIA
NO. 24, JALAN SS1/22A, 47300 PETALING JAYA, SELANGOR
Contact Person: Dato Paul Selva Raj
Tel Office : +603-7876 4648