ISLAMABAD: Parents and students studying in private schools took to the streets on Sunday to protest against the hike in school fees and urged Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar to take notice of their exploitation at the hands of private schools.
Holding up placards inscribed with appeals and slogans against the schools, parents and students gathered outside the National Press Club.
They claimed that the ratio of profit for schools had increased manifolds because rules drafted by the capital’s private school regulatory authority were not being implemented owing to prolonged litigation.
Parents from the twin cities urged Chief Justice Nisar to club all cases on school fees, which are pending in various courts, and hear them on a priority basis to resolve the issue.
They said that they have been protesting against fees hikes since 2015 but so far the situation remains unchanged with no relief offered.
Hamid Khan, a parent at the protest stated that they were being fleeced by private schools.
“Education is a basic right of children but through the unbridled hike in fees, this right is being snatched from our children,” he lamented.
The Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) — the apex body in the capital which was supposed to regulate fees of private schools in the city — had on June 20, 2016, introduced a fee structure for private schools under the Registration and Fee Determination Rules 2016 (RFDR) after some private schools had hiked their fees once again.
However, the rules were challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The case struck down after a two-year legal battle. The case, though, remains in court owing to challenges filed against it.
Due to prolonged litigation and stay orders by the courts, schools have increased their fees by as much as 40 per cent per year with little check on them, said Mansoor, another parent.
He complained that there was no mechanism for foreign testing services such as the British Council and Cambridge who too have increased their fees.
Parents further contended that fee for the summer vacations should not be charged, instead, they suggested that they should only be charged according to the actual expenditure and those whose academic year ends in May should be exempted from fee.
Parents also complained against the host of auxiliary fees charged by schools which see unbridled hikes including advance fee and expenses for generators, laboratories, uniforms, stationery, annual parties and security. School owners, though, have thus far resisted attempts by the government to regulate fees and other standards in schools.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2018.