KARACHI: The protest against what parents of Karachi view as an unjustified increase in the tuition fees of private schools entered the second consecutive day on Tuesday.
More than 100 parents gathered outside Karachi Press Club again on Tuesday morning, holding placards and shouting slogans against private schools and the government. The parents demanded strict action against the fee rise. They also asked why the chief minister of Sindh is not doing anything to resolve the issue. The protesters included parents of children enrolled in Foundation Public School, The City School, The Generation’s School, Happy Palace School and Beaconhouse School System.
“I admitted my third child in St Paul’s [School] because I cannot afford Beaconhouse School fee for him as two of children are already studying there,” said Kiran Afzal, who has received a Rs30,000 bi-monthly fee voucher this month. “The fee for two months was Rs12,000 five years back when I admitted my first child,” she said, adding what made them increase the fee by around 150 per cent in just five years.
Another parent, who was a former teacher at Beaconhouse PECHS campus, said that the school is increasing almost 20 per cent of the tuition fee every year without any justification. “Their teaching staff has been suppressed while the management is getting higher [salaries] day by day,” she said. They have made a business out of fee collection and believe in only making money instead of providing good quality education, she added.
A man whose two daughters study at the Foundation Public School was also among the protesters. He shouted slogans against the private schools and called them a mafia. According to him, when his younger daughter was promoted to Kindergarten from Nursery, the school raised the fee by 13 per cent while the fee for the elder daughter was raised by 23 per cent when she was promoted to class three from class two.
“Despite charging annual fee and other charges, schools also asks us to pay extra charges after every two three months in the name of some activity or some special day celebrations,” complained another parent whose two daughters and a son are studying at AES School and Beaconhouse School, respectively.
Complaining about the Beaconhouse School System, Raza Iqbal, a father of two, said that, earlier, schools gave us justification in fee vouchers by informing them about the division of the fee. “But this time they are not even talking about the basis they have increased the fee on,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior minister for education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro has taken notice of the fee increase issue and called a meeting of school administrations.
In a media talk, he said that the registration policy of the schools will also be discussed in the meeting and fee raise will not be accepted in view of tax implementation. He has also issued notices to some schools and said that he will not tolerate if schools are charging a combined fee for three to four months.
Talking to The Express Tribune, commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said that the administration is trying to resolve the issue through negotiations. He also said that protests do not portray a good image and issues should be resolved by bringing together schools and parents on one floor. The Commissioner House has received many complaints against Generations School, Beaconhouse School System, Happy Palace School and The City School.
Beaconhouse School System was unwilling to comment on the issue and their spokesperson said they will issue a statement soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2015.