KARACHI: In 2009, when Mrs Salman admitted her daughter in a private school in Karachi, she used to pay Rs15,000 monthly, which also included all other expenses charged by the school.
Almost nine years down the line, she pays Rs70,000 for a single child. “We are parents not ATM machines for private schools,” she said adding that these schools have made education a business.
Mrs Salman’s story is similar to hundreds of other parents who protested at the main University Road outside PIA Planetarium on Saturday demanding the implementation of rules and regulations given in Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision.
On September 3, the SHC barred all private schools from increasing tuition fees by more than 5% for any given year. The three-member bench ruled in favour of the Parents Action Committee, a group of more than 2,000 parents who had moved the court against unjust and exorbitant increases in tuition fees on annual basis.
Parents were holding placards inscribed with ‘Return Excessive Fees’, ‘Education is Not Business’, ’26 days; how many more for implementation?’ They chanted slogans against the private schools calling them mafias and against Sindh government that failed to implement the SHC’s order.
Most parents were residents of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, FB Area, Nursery and Tariq Road. They also held a walk from PIA Planetarium to Expo Centre as part of their protest.
According to one of the parents, Danish Idrees, who was also one of the organisers of the protest, the law passed in 2005 allowed private schools to only increase fees by 5% per annum but it has never been implemented.
Idrees said that the SHC has ordered the private schools to return the excessive fees to all the parents who were petitioners in the case from the year 2005. “The Sindh government and private schools aren’t paying any heed to that decision and this is contempt of court,” he said. Around 12 private schools, according to Idrees, have appealed to the Supreme Court against the SHC decision.
Mrs Owais, who is a mother of two children, said, “It doesn’t seem nice to tell the world how we make our ends meet, but it’s certainly not easy for a middle class family to give quality education to their children these days.”
She complained of not receiving the fees voucher from the school administration this month as they were one of the petitioners. Muhammad Mughees also claims that his children’s school, which is a renowned school in Gulistan-e-Jauhar having more than 10 branches across the city, hasn’t issued the fees vouchers to petitioners.
“All we want is the implementation of the SHC order,” he said and requested the Sindh government to ensure the implementation.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2018.