The Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PIERA) should be a self-governing body, according to the Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat. Moreover, the government shall allocate annual grant to the authority to meet its expenses, including pay and allowances of its staff.
The standing committee gave this proposal as part of its amendments to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Private Educational Institutions (Registration and Regulation) Bill, which it tabled in the National Assembly recently. The bill is an attempt to regulate the working of private schools in the capital city.
The committee as proposed that once the Private Educational Institutions (Registration and Regulation) Bill is passed, the chairman of PIERA should also serve as its chief executive officer to ensure observance of the provisions of the Act.
About the registration of private institutions with any local or foreign board, it suggested that the institutes will first have to be registered with the PIERA. Moreover, if PIERA cancels the certificate of registration of an institute, it will have to be closed down.
The committee maintained that PIERA should also ensure that the salaries that private education pay to their teachers commensurate with the services and quality of education provided in the institutes.
The committee has maintained in its report that there are over 690 private educational institutions operating in ICT, providing education from nursery up till secondary and higher secondary levels, whereas a few are pursuing the O and A levels curriculum.
These institutions were operating without any governing government policy in place until 2006, when an ordinance was promulgated to ensure checks over them.
The Private Educational Institutions (Registration and Regulation) Bill was referred to the committee for amendments on October 14, 2009.
Riffat Shaheen Qazi, the secretary of Ministry of Capital Administration and Development (MoCA&D), formerly known as the Ministry of Education, told The Express Tribune that after the bill is passed, there will be a proper system and policy in place to govern private schools. She said there is a wide discrepancy in the fee structure of public and private institutions in Islamabad and the Act will bring uniformity to it.
PIERA Secretary Imtiaz Quraishi said that tabling of the bill in the National Assembly is commendable. “This [Act] will give legal strength to the PIERA and a permanent formula to operate the body with a set of laws,” he remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.