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PM orders freeze on private school fees

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, apparently putting his foot down, has ordered that no private schools should raise their fees in the year 2015.

According to a brief statement, issued by the PM House on Sunday, the PM ordered the education ministry and the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to implement this decision in true letter and spirit.

The statement also said that the PM directed both ministries to hold consultative meetings with all stakeholders in order to devise a unanimously-accepted policy that regulates fee increases by private schools.

The directions were part of an effort to come up with “proposed legislations in order to regulate and keep a check on profiteering by private schools”.

The PM’s order comes on the heels of an ordinance, issued by the Punjab government, which also bars private schools from raising their fees this year.

Education Minister Baleeghur Rehman, who was tasked by the PM to solve the fee hike issue, had met with private school representatives on Friday and had reportedly sent a summary to the PM on the basis of his meeting.

Earlier, a group of parents who started a drive against the exorbitant fee hike by elite private schools on Sunday announced their decision to launch a signature campaign to press the government to take action against the operators of the schools.

“We are going to start a door-to-door campaign from Monday to collect the signatures of parents against the private schools charging exorbitant fee,” Aliya Agha, who leads the campaign, told Dawn.

Under the Act, only PEIRA can determine the fee of private schools. However, the authority has failed to determine the fee structure of private schools.

Section 4 (C) of the Act states that PEIRA is responsible for the “determination and fixation of rate of fee being charged by institutions, qualifications of teaching staff, their terms and conduction of service including salaries and mode of payment of their salaries.” But despite the passage of two-and-a-half years, PEIRA could not put in place a mechanism for determining the fee, providing a free hand to the private schools to fix the fee on their own.

“Parents need to be involved in the oversight of the private schools,” said Mohsin Khan, a member of the action committee.

Published in Dawn, September 21st , 2015

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