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ACCESS to schooling is a four-dimensional problem: there are not enough schools; not enough schools for girls; not enough high schools; and not enough good schools.

The problem of access is so severe that it seems almost impossible to solve without involving the heavily private sector in education, keeping in view the financial constraints of the government.

The role of private sector education providers tremendously increased during the last three decades after the end of nationalisation in 1979. Nearly 40pc children attend private schools. Similarly 16pc students go to universities and degree-awarding institutions in the private sector.

It is evident now from some data that the facilities in private schools are better than those in public schools on most indicators such as space for teaching, drinking water facilities, toilets and boundary walls.

Attendance of teachers and students is also better in private schools than that of public schools. Some people think that the government should use the limited available resources on the quality of education instead of opening more schools and leave the increase in the number of schools to the private sector.

In spite of all this, some people carry the wrong notion that private sector educational institutions are minting money. This is not true. Most of the owners of these institutions are running on a marginal profit.

However, those who save reasonable amounts because of their exceptional quality reputation are reinvesting the saved money in education in horizontal or vertical expansion.

But still these private sector institutions are treated as commercial entities and not as public service providers. Instead of assisting them, they have been heavily taxed. The budget for 2013-14 is a recent example.

The tax may dishearten private sector education providers and they may divert their investment to other directions.

We should be very fair with ourselves. If the government has no additional money and the private sector stops further investment, what will happen to our people, more than 40pc of whom are illiterate.

Therefore, the authorities concerned are requested to reconsider their decisions on taxing the private sector education providers.


Comments (8) Closed

Salman Ali Jul 15, 2013 07:59am

The writer has highlighted important fact that a large number of private schools are fulfilling an important need. Before taxing them, government needs to do some preliminary work in determining profitability, minimum operational guidelines etc. Private schools owned by Trusts were never an issue in the 1970-90s. It is only the new ones, owned by individuals and families that are perceived to be charging high fees. Relevant departments should assess what are the teacher to student ratios, extra curricular activies offered and teacher salaries as percentage of revenue before taking any action.

Faisal Jul 15, 2013 10:39am

I have three kids in a school which charges me one third of my salary now, i dont know what their noble plans are but if education is not cash viable, you may not see schools in every street of urban Pakistan and on top of that they are pleading for tax relaxations, may God save this country.

Omair Jul 15, 2013 01:05pm

In Pakistan, private education has become a business, with schools charging exorbitant fees and setting up multiple campuses like industrialist setup industries. The standard of education is very low and money making seems to be the only concern. These should be taxed.

Also the tution centre popping upon a daily basis need to be taxed.

Bilal Jul 15, 2013 01:31pm

Ok Professor sahib, so you are telling us that private schools are NOT minting money??

I am sorry but either you are totally unaware of the situation or you have some interest in this private schooling business and you are trying to pull a fast one here.

  1. Private schools are charging tens of thousands of PKR in fees!! Just look at the admission fees paid by students. Then the so called 'security surcharge'! I admit the facilities they provide are also much better than public schools, but still some basic calculation will show that a small private school with 200 or so students is making millions per year.

  2. You have quoted a figure of 40% of total students in private schools. Let me assure you sir, this is because of absence of other options i.e. public schools are in shambles.

  3. I fully support taxing these private school 'conglomerates'. But it should be based on their income. And its just wishful thinking, but Government should make sure that these taxes are not passed on to students in their fees.

Sohaib khan Jul 15, 2013 02:45pm

Dear i think you are either private school owner or have investment in private institutions . now a days private school makes alot of mony at least in karachi they charge very heavy feeses which is real burden on parents . they made education very dificult. poor's can not even think of studyng in these private ever this is all becouse of bad quality of edu in govt schools. may god bless us all .

zaheer Jul 15, 2013 02:50pm

Private schools are run like a business with a primary intention to make money. If a school is minting most cases they are....then why should there ever be an argument to make this industry tax exempt? The author seem to have a vested interest in coming up with such lame arguments.

Amanullah Khan Jul 15, 2013 07:20pm

I full agree with the arguments of Dr.Asrar.The entire world is ready to help Pakistan ,being a nuclear state is unable provide education to its children.I see hundreds of children standing around intersections on red light to wipe the car windscreens. It is sad to see them.They should be in some Schools. Besides, the rampant corruption in the education department,there are 16 different types of taxes imposed on schools even on the plea of Labour Lawsand professional tax etc. Government should exempt the private School from all taxes.

Naseem Jul 15, 2013 11:34pm

Yes, private schools are not minting money, they are skinning parents and getting away with it. Private school owners should be brought in tax net, their income should be taxed.