LAHORE: All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) president Kashif Mirza said on Thursday private schools would reopen on Thursday (today). He said the federation had given the government a week’s time to address their grievances about the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Bill.
Mirza said Governor Rafique Rajwana’s statement about the government wanting to talk to school owners was a positive development. He said they had asked the government to amend the bill.
He said, “The ball is now in the government’s court. It is now up to the chief minister to listen to the problems faced by private schools. The impact of the regulatory bill on private school owners will be huge. It should not be taken lightly.”
Mirza said, “Private schools will not extend their protest presently but we can shut down schools again if our reservations are not addressed. The government has one week to address our grievances. We have patiently waited for six months. One more week won’t make much difference.”
Talking to The Tribune, Pakistan Education Council (PEC) spokesperson Kamran Malik said schools had been closed for two days. He said schools would reopen as per schedule. He said the PEC was willing to talk to the government.
On Tuesday, Education Minister Rana Mashhood had said that government had formed a 10-member committee to review grievances of private schools. He had said that the government had taken notice of fee hikes in private schools and the regulatory bill had been introduced after parents complained.
He had said that the government would take action against schools in violation of the law. He advised schools to follow the procedure set in the bill.
On March 8, the APPSF and the PEC had announced to a two-day shutdown in protest against the bill passed by the Punjab Assembly.
Under the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Bill, the government will regulate school fees and impose penalties through an authority constituted under the law. The authority would be responsible for registering new schools and institutions already working in the province were required to register within 45 days.
The bill also restricted schools from revising tuition fees. It made it mandatory for private schools to seek permission for fee raises three months prior to the start of the academic year.
Under the bill, admission fee and security fees charged must not exceed a month’s tuition fee. Schools were not allowed to tell parents to purchase uniforms, textbooks or other material from them or a particular shop.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2016.