LAHORE: The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) on Saturday criticised the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Bill (Amended) 2015.
The bill was passed by the Provincial Assembly on Friday. It aims to regulate private schools in the province.
Talking to The Express Tribune, APPSF president Kashif Mirza said that the penalties laid down in the bill for private schools not abiding by the law were unjust and would be bad for education in the province. “The bill will destroy the private school education sector. The government is not fulfilling its duty of providing education to the masses through the public sector. Now it is trying to destroy the private sector as well,” he said.
Mirza said that the APPSF would go to court against the bill. “We are also looking at other options, including shutting down schools in protest. First, we will try to negotiate with the government,” he said.
He said that the bill had put a restriction on raising fees. “Schools will only be allowed to raise fees by 5 per cent annually. Schools, especially smaller institutions, will not survive with such restrictions. The inflation rate is 15 to 20 per cent. Only 5 per cent fee raise is unjustified,” he said.
Mirza said that the registration process for schools was also complicated. “This will make things worse for privately-run schools in the province. The APPSF is going to hold a meeting with executive bodies of schools to plan a course of action against the bill,” he said.
Under the bill, the Punjab government will regulate school fees and impose penalties on schools that violate rules. An authority constituted under the law will be responsible for registration of new schools. Institutions already in business will be required to register within 45 days.
The school will not be allowed to revise tuition fees during an academic year. Fees might be raised for the next academic year after obtaining permission from the registration authority. The requests for permission to raise fees would be made three months before the start of the academic year. Appeals against the authority’s decisions will be decided by the divisional commissioners.
The one-time admission fee and security fees-charged cannot be more than the tuition fee for one month. Under the law, schools cannot tell parents to purchase uniforms, textbooks or other material from a particular shop.
The bill proposes an administrative penalty of up to Rs20,000 a day for violations. The amount will be charged from the day of the issuance of a notice to the day the violation is addressed. For violations that continue for over 30 days, the authority might file a complaint with a magistrate of the first-class. The court might impose a fine between Rs200,000 and Rs2 million.
The fine proposed for failure to register with the authority is between Rs300,000 and Rs4 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2016.
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