LAHORE: The government is planning to table a bill in the provincial assembly which will ensure regulation and monitoring of private schools by a private schools’ commission.
The announcement was made by Minister for Education Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan at the Assembly’s session on Monday. He said bill was in the process of being vetted by the Law Department after which it will be tabled in the Assembly.
The 15-member private schools’ commission will include nine representatives of the private education sector and six members from the public sector. Khan said the commission would be tasked with identifying shortcomings in the private education sector by regulating and monitoring all private schools.
Speaking to The Express Tribune later, Khan said the bill will be tabled at the next session of the Punjab Assembly. He said the government had been working on the legislation for over a year. “Private schools will be categorised based on the facilities they offer and their fee structure,” he said. “The commission will form a regulating mechanism to monitor the private education sector.”
MPA Zaibunnisa Aiwan raised a question regarding missing facilities at schools, especially of availability of drinking water and washrooms.
Khan said the government had allocated Rs8 billion to provide facilities to public schools this year. He said as per policy, there was a priority list on which addressing the issue of dangerous school buildings and providing additional classrooms came first. He said the government was looking to build 30,000 additional classrooms in the province. He said by March next year, the government will ensure that every school has a boundary wall. He said school councils would be made effective in terms of identifying needs and utilising funds.
MPA Nighat Sheikh had reservations over the large number of unregistered private schools in the province. Khan said the regulatory body would help the government monitor such schools. Responding to another question, he said almost 80 per cent schools in the Punjab were teaching the government’s curriculum. The rest were teaching curriculums of various education systems, but they were broadly aligned with guidelines set by the government.
Khan said district governments had been given instructions to address issues through district coordination committees.
MPA Sardar Vickas Hasan Mokal said there were more than 10 schools in Kasur district which required renovation and facilities. “No one is reaching out to them… Politics should not extend to such matters but there is clear discrimination between the constituencies of Opposition and Treasury benches in terms of development work.”
The session was then adjourned till 10am on Tuesday (today).
Several lawmakers gathered after the session to hold a vigil for children who died in the Peshawar school attack. Christian MPAs had planned to get together in the assembly’s courtyard on Monday evening and cut a Christmas cake. “Instead we decided to express our grief and show solidarity with the victims of the Peshawar attack,” MPA Tariq Masih Gill said. He said Christians had planned to observe Christmas in a solemn manner this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2014.