KARACHI: The exorbitant increase in monthly tuition fees for private schools is being met with much aggression by parents, especially those who belong to the middle socioeconomic class. The provincial governments, and in particular the Sindh government, are not taking as much interest as they should in the matter. The Sindh government has allowed the monthly increase of fees by 10 per cent a student, without considering ground realities. There is no plausible reason for further increase. The Sindh government should follow the directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who ordered that no tuition fee shall be increased during the current year and that the authorities concerned should ensure that current fees are refunded to parents if schools have already collected them. Many schools already charge astronomical tuition fees, admission fees, annual charges, and stationery and textbook charges. Provincial governments and the federal government should work together in the interest of the public, rather than acting in the interest of private school businesses. A number of private schools in Karachi have again started demanding annual charges, requiring parents to pay them within a given time period. Else, their children will either not be allowed to take annual examinations or their exam results will be withheld.Private schools demand the deposit of annual charges immediately, which are equal to monthly tuition fees. I would like to draw attention towards a circular issued by the Directorate Registration/Inspection Private Institution, Sindh, no.DIR/POS/R-I/EDUGOS/(44)/(10580)/2009 dated 16-09-2009, which issued necessary instructions to all private schools and instructed them not to charge any other fees under any other heading, unless approved; this includes annual charges and recreation fees, etc. Private schools have not followed these directives.
The directors of private schools are not performing their duties properly and many complaints lodged by parents are pending. The annual fee charge is an open violation of specific instructions passed by the Directorate. Advance fees for the month of June and July have also been charged along with the fees for January and February. This practice must be discouraged and specific directions should be issued by the relevant departments.
It is suggested that an independent commission be established, comprising educationists, retired judges, chartered accountants, economists, public representatives and members of NGOs, to study and decide fee structures for each school, on the basis of faculty quality and school facilities provided for students, such as drinking water, sanitation, bathrooms, after-school clubs and sports facilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2015.