Parents to launch protest drive against fee hike
LAHORE: Owners of private schools are holding students hostage and keeping them in illegal detention over fee issue, alleged parents on Wednesday.
Parents Action Committee Founder Kashif Ismael stated, “Private schools have increased their monthly fee by 50 per cent in violation of the rules despite a stay order by the Lahore High Court (LHC). In case, the parents did not pay the extra fee, the management of private schools take students from the classroom, keep them in illegal detention in the library or other solitary places. They even order the student to make a round of school. They are hurling threats and are humiliating and harassing students and parents”.
Kashif Ismael further stated that the private schools under the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Ordinance 2017 are only allowed to annually increase their fees by five per cent and, in special cases and with permission, eight per cent but the situation at hand is completely opposite.
“We registered our complaint with Chief Education Officer and the Chief Minister’s Complaint Cell but to no avail. The influential mafia of private school owners is holding the education hostage,” he said while addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club flanked by concerned parents.
“We receive complaints from parents every day and we went to the LHC and the court has bound private schools from not increasing their fee till further decision,” he said.
According to Kashif Ismael, there are only 1,200 government schools in Lahore while the number of private schools is 11,000. Similarly, he said, there are 51,000 state-run schools in Punjab and 110,000 private schools across the province. He claimed that the share of government-run schools in Punjab is only 15 per cent against 85 per cent share of private schools.
He further claimed that the largest chunk of the salary of parents -70 percent- goes to school fee of their children which can range from anything between Rs15,000 and Rs20,000 per month.
He said with the mushroom growth in private schools, parents prefer to send their children to these institutions instead of state-run schools but the fee they charge is exorbitant and puts a financial burden on parents. He deemed the provision of education as a flourishing business in Pakistan.
He blamed the government for not taking the education issue seriously and leaving parents at the mercy of private schools mafia. He alleged that the government is not taking any legal action against private schools and the increased school fees each year without any reason.
Parents of students at various private schools have demanded the government to implement laws already in place regarding fee increases and introduce Private Education Institute Regularity Authority (PEIRA) across the country on the pattern of Rawalpindi-Islamabad so that the issue is resolved once for all.
Talking about missing facilities at private schools, parents stated, “Even clean drinking water is not available at some elite schools. There is no future of our children at these schools.”
Parents said that they formed volunteer lawyers group and moved the Lahore High Court on October 30 and the court has issued a stay order against fee raise but there is no implementation on the government’s part.
Parents of students vowed, “We will not be harassed. The owners of private schools should do what they can. We will move forward with protesting against the illegal fee hike. ”
The parents said that they would launch a protest drive against fee hike by private schools from October 9 until acceptance of their demands.