The National Education Council (NEC) chairperson, Syed Khalid Shah, termed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s orders on not to increase fees this year as a ‘king’s ruling’.
He was speaking at a press conference on the issue of fee hikes in private schools and pointed out that the PM’s decision was non-democratic. “This issue cannot be resolved by a single order. For its solution, everyone needs to sit down, talk and negotiate,” he said.
Shah also questioned why parents do not protest when universities charge hefty amounts in the name of fees and only target schools, giving the example of LUMS and NUST. “Parents should be careful when getting their children admitted to schools which they can’t afford, instead of protesting later against the high fees,” he pointed out.
The yearly fee raise is due to increasing taxes, utility bills and yearly increment in teachers’ salaries. “Many schools have to pay rent for the school building, which also increases by 10 per cent every year,” Shah added. All private schools have to meet their expenses, for which they need money, he said. Discussing the root of the issue, he said that the authorities should have set rules to regularise who can open schools and who cannot when the emergence of private schools first came into the picture. “Today, the private schools are fighting for their survival and it’s a competition between each other,” said Shah.
The NEC chairperson also said that, during the last meeting with the education minister, they made him agree to a yearly 10 per cent fee increase all over the province. Those schools which already have high fees, of which 10 per cent is a large amount, cannot increase their fee more than Rs1,500.
He also demanded the authorities only implement those rules on schools, which they can agree upon and are workable. Secondly, he asked that all taxes and charges that are implemented on industries should not be levied on schools.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2015.