–Minister says school owners should reduce fees by at least 20pc for April and May, warns against lay-offs
LAHORE: The Punjab government has approached private schools with a proposal for a reduction in fees to provide relief to families battling with coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was taken in a meeting of the special committee, headed by Punjab Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Social Welfare Muhammad Basharat Raja on Tuesday. Minister for Schools Education Murad Raas, Secretary Schools Shehryar Sultan and representatives of private school owners also attended the meeting.
Law Minister Raja said the schools were asked to come up with recommendations within two days. He said that after receiving proposals from the school owners, Chief Minister Usman Bazdar would take the final decision.
He said that private school owners should voluntarily give a discount of at least 20 per cent in the monthly fees of April and May. He said that no school should receive a three-month fee at a time, neither any teacher should be fired nor her/his salary deducted.
The law minister said that the Punjab government gave priority to the interests of students, parents, teachers and school owners simultaneously.
Earlier in the day, Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas urged parents not to pay fees as the government was mulling to get the private schools to reduce the fees. “Do not pay any fees at the moment and wait for the notification from the government,” he said in an interview.
When the interviewer asked of “certain schools” declining to reduce fees, Raas said that after the court orders have been given and the law has been passed, we will have portals where the citizens will be able to write a complaint about the fees being charged.
When asked about semester fees being charged in the universities, Raas said to refer the matter to Higher Education Minister Raja Yasir.
He also said the current holiday period would be treated as the official summer holidays. “The announcement will also be made on social media and on TV, so don’t worry there will be no confusion about that. These are the official summer holidays,” he said.
The new education year will start from June 1 now, he clarified.
“All the exams scheduled for spring are canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” he said, adding that a new schedule will be issued after June.
When asked, Raas responded that the homework will also be assigned to the students to keep them occupied during the vacations.
Responding to a question pertaining to the assessment criteria for promotion in higher grades, the minister said, students from grade 1 to grade 8, will be given their summer homework and if they complete it and submit it after the holidays they shall be promoted to the next class there shall be no exams for them in this kind of conditions.
Noting that June and July offer the peak of the heatwave in Pakistan, he said the government will change the timings in the summer. “If there is a heatwave, we will give a few days off since this is an emergency situation we will need to adjust to some conditions,” he said.