State of desolation: Operating without registration, private schools face no penalties

Directive for registration was issued in April, with names of all 153 unregistered schools.

Z Ali December 16, 2013
"The schools avoid registration not because of the fees but the fear of the directorate’s inspection of the school’s overall performance," An officer of the directorate. PHOTO: FILE

HYDERABAD: When one refers to private schools, the image of large building structures, well paid teachers, playgrounds, exorbitant fees and other trappings of wealth come to mind. However, a closer look reveals the flip side of schools operating without registration in fear of detailed inspections of the school’s affairs.

The private schools are regulated under the Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Ordinance, 2001, and Rules 2005 as well as the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013. The provincial government’s Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institutions, Hyderabad region, which was established in January 2010, is the regulatory authority. Its jurisdiction is spread over 10 districts of Hyderabad division.

The last four years, however, have not been successful for the directorate. “I took charge only a few months ago and so far I am coming to grips with the system,” said the director Barkat Ali Hyderi, who assumed charge in April. According to the directorate’s record, there are 1,395 private educational institutions in the region — over half of them are in Hyderabad district. Out of these, around 153 schools are either unregistered or haven’t renewed their registration, despite it being mandatory under the Act.

The latest directive for registration was issued through an advertisement in April, which contained the names of all the 153 unregistered schools.

When asked how many schools have been penalised for flouting the rules, Hyderi replied, “None.” He also appeared unaware of the Act which was passed by the Sindh Assembly in February.

“Any person who establishes or runs a school without obtaining the certificate of registration or continues to run a school after withdrawal of registration shall be liable to fine which may extend to Rs500,000 and imprisonment for six months extendable to one year or both,” reads section 14 (5) of the Act.

“We give up to a month to the new schools to register. If they don’t comply, we give additional time to facilitate them and to ensure their registration.” But this policy has hardly rendered any gains, at least in the ongoing stint of the incumbent director who could only register a few schools since he took charge.

Around a dozen people man the directorate but only three of them are officers with the power to inspect schools. The director, however, feels that the present strength does not amount to a shortage despite the stretch of the office’s jurisdiction covering 10 districts.


The directorate provides the same form for registration and renewal. A school has to provide details of enrolment, list of library books, text books, furniture, fee structure and record of 10 per cent free enrollment as stipulated under section 10 (b) of the Act.

According to Asghar Chandio, office superintendent at the directorate, Rs1,000 is charged for both the registration and renewal from schools in the urban areas and Rs500 from those in the rural parts. The O’ and A’ level schools pay Rs10,000 while the colleges in the urban areas are charged Rs5,000 and those in the rural Rs2,000.

“The schools avoid registration not because of the fees. It’s the fear of the directorate’s inspection of the school’s overall performance, tax evasion and depriving their employees of their rights that matters,” said an officer of the directorate. “The law bars from charging more than three months tuition fees as advance but the schools hardly abide by it.” Inadequate classrooms, questionable building structures, a lack of libraries and playgrounds, unhygienic food at the canteens and unclean drinking water, among others, are some other deficiencies, he added.

The directorate also appears unconcerned when it comes to enforcement of a uniform fee structure. Hyderi justifies freedom given to the schools, saying that the quality of education is the parameter of their fee structure, tacitly denying his office any control over the process.

Low registration with EOBI

T he law also makes it mandatory for any employer with a workforce of at least five persons to register their employees with Employees Old age Benefit Institution (EOBI).

In Hyderabad region, however, only 227 schools are registered with the EOBI with 26 of them not paying their contribution.

The regional director Mumtaz Brohi said that one sixth of the Rs480 EOBI charges, are deducted from the employee’s salary while the remaining is given by the employer per month.

Against this, he added, we give at least Rs3,600 to Rs8,000 pension to the retired people even in the private sector.

“While there is a general tendency in the private business sector to deny EOBI facility to their staff, it’s particularly unfortunate for the institutions of learning are doing the same,” he commented.

Private schools’ representatives speak out

The directorate seeks bribe for offering every legal service, alleged an owner of a private school. “Their inspection is just a visit to collect extortion.” He argued that rigid monitoring of the private schools is not being carried out. “Can the directorate show how many schools have been fined for violations in the last many years?”

Another owner of a franchise school pointed out that the government seeks registration of even kindergarten schools, even though according to the relevant law, the registration starts from class I.

Syed Khalid Shah, provincial president of the Private Schools Management Association, said that they issue regular press releases and letters to their members encouraging them to register with the relevant authority. However, he clarified, that the association does not seek record of the payment of income tax and EOBI registration from its members.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2013.


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