Current school fee hike is unjustified and legislation must be enacted to ensure fees are in line with inflation rates: Minister of State for Education

Islamabad, September 11, 2015 (PPI-OT): The minister of State for Education Mr. Muhammad Balighur Rehman today met with a delegation of concerned parents at the Pak Secretariat and promised to introduce legislation to regulate school fees in private schools. The delegation of parents represent children who attend Head Start, ROOTS, Westminster, Froebels and EMS private schools in Islamabad and was led by the legal advisor to the group of aggrieved parents High Court Advocate Aliya Agha.

Minister for Education Mr. Rahman told parents that he understood their concerns. “Private schools should not have increased their fee by so much. Every family has a budget and such sudden hikes make education less affordable.” He went on to say that changing schools as a result of these hikes can have a psychological impact on children. “If children have to change schools because their parents cannot afford it, this has a negative effect on them.”

He went on to assure parents that the ministry of education will enact legislation so that fee of schools is in line with inflation rates, so that “unchecked increases are not allowed.” The delegation of parents presented their case before the minister, stating that with the inflation rate hovering between 5% to 7%, schools are not justified in increasing their fee for the current term by 18%.

Parents also informed the minister that they have attempted to persuade the administration of the various private schools but have not received any formal redress for their grievances. Indeed, the parents of children attending Head Start have also served a legal notice to the school asking for a reduction in the fee and a breakdown of costs, heads and taxes. Until then parents will continue to protest and have refused to pay the fee.

Parents have also written to concerned authorities to issue a directive to private schools to refrain from expelling children until the government completes its investigation. Ms. Aliya Agha requested the minister on behalf of the aggrieved parents during today’s meeting to provide guidelines to measure the quality of education including training manuals of teaching staff at private schools in accordance with the indicators set by the ministry.

Mr. Rahman also promised to hold a meeting with the minister of state of the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Barrister Usman Ibrahim and officials from the Private Educational Institute Regulatory Authority (PEIRA). So far the government has not appointed any chairman for PEIRA, which falls under the jurisdiction of CADD.

PEIRA was established in 2013 in order to register, and regulate the functioning of private schools. Amongst its mandated powers is to determine and fix the rate of the fee being charged by private institutions, the qualifications of the teaching staff as well as the terms and conditions of the services of teachers. The delegation of concerned parents tried to meet with the minister of CADD Barrister Usman Ibrahim today but he cancelled the meeting and has not re-scheduled, nor is he responding to calls.

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