Private schools demand advance fee

Parents told to pay summer vacation charges

ADNAN LODHI May 28, 2024
Students leaving school:PHOTO


A large number of private schools are forcing parents of their students to pay three-month advance fee for the summer vaccinations without any intervention from the education department.

According to some parents, the schools in various districts of the province have refused to assign summer vacation homework to the students till the payment of the advance fee.

They said the education authorities appeared helpless to act against the private schools and had already failed to persuade them to announce holidays because of the prevailing extremely hot weather.

All government schools in the province have been shut following a heatwave alert issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA). However, the students of private should are being forced to attend classes in the hot weather.

"The private schools have extended their examination schedule to receive the advance fees for three months, threatening not the assign the homework to the children who fail to make the payment,” said a senior official of the Punjab School Education Department.

The official said complaints of the demand for advance fee had been received from several districts, including an incident reported from recently from Jhang, where the administration of a school did not allow girls to go home in case of non-payment of the advance fee.

The parents also protested over the matter but the ministry concerned has not framed a strategy to stop the practice of collecting of the advance fee for three months, he added.

In the past, the government issued notifications and shared contact numbers for complaints regarding advance fee, but the parents have not been offered any recourse this time.

The mother of a school student, Asma Shahzad, alleged the institutions were being kept open till May 31 to collect the advance fee. She said it was callous to deprive the children of relief despite the heatwave alert.

She said a large number of private schools were operating in small buildings without adequate facilities of fans and water. She lamented that the authorities had not taken action over the children being forced to attend schools in the hot weather.

She said even the public sector universities and colleges had been closed due to the heatwave but the private school managements were ignoring the plight of their students.

“We are facing difficulties in even paying the monthly fee because of the prevailing circumstances, but are being asked to pay the advance fee,” she lamented.

According to a parent, some schools are also selling books and copies of the summer vacation homework.

Two months ago, the government had issued a notification barring the sale of books and uniforms by schools as the managements of almost all of them had set up stores for the purpose. However, the homework material is reportedly being sold for Rs500 to Rs1,000 in various schools.

When contacted, the Punjab education minister’s spokesman Noorul Huda that the ministry would not permit the collection of advance fee and the then parents should complain to the chief executive officer of the district education authority concerned about any violation.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2024.


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