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PA clips powers of private schools watchdog

June 17, 2017

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday amended a law to clip the powers of the watchdog for private schools even before its creation.

Now, after the amendment to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Private Schools Regulatory Authority Act, 2017, which was passed three weeks ago, the authority can’t close down private schools for violating terms and conditions set for their functioning.

With Speaker Asad Qaisar in the chair, the house also passed Rs47.25 billion supplementary budget being utilised in the outgoing financial year.

Amends law to stop regulatory authority from closing schools for violating terms and conditions

Amendments to the Private Schools Regulatory Authority Act were introduced by ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak.

The assembly had passed the KP Private Schools Regulatory Authority Act, 2017, on May 23 but clipped the watchdog’s powers even before the elementary and secondary education department began work to put it in place.

Before those amendments to the law, the authority had the power to close or lock or seal schools not fulfilling the terms and conditions set for their functioning.

Now the amended law states punitive action may be taken against such schools ‘as may be prescribed.’

For the purpose, an amendment was introduced to sub-section 4 of Section 22 of the Act in which the words ‘close or lock or seal such school’ were substituted with the words ‘take such punitive action as may be prescribed.’

Through another amendment to the law, the elementary and secondary education secretary replaced the education minister as the authority’s chairperson.

Also, 25 per cent concession on the tuition fee allowed by the law will now be for the siblings only. In the original law, it was for kinship.

The house also approved Rs47.25 billion demands for grants, which was utilised by 53 departments in addition to their approved budget in 2016-17.

The motions for demand of grants were laid in the house by the relevant ministers, advisers to the chief ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

The major demand for grants approved by the house in the supplementary budget include Rs15.94 billion for roads, highways and bridges, Rs7.2 billion for pension, Rs6.1 billion for health and Rs4.74 for special initiatives of the chief minister.

Earlier, adviser to the chief minister for higher education Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani informed the house that efforts were under way to give autonomy to government colleges.

“The financial and administrative power of each college will be given to the board of governor of the respective college,” he said.

The adviser said the BoGs would be empowered to decide about the future of the colleges.

He was responding to the criticism of the lawmakers, who had tabled cut motions on the demand of grant for the higher education department.

The adviser said the formation of quality assurance unit in the department was in final stages.

He said the shifting of the intermediate classes from colleges to higher secondary schools was also under consideration.

“The shifting of intermediate classes to higher secondary schools will create space in colleges, where BS programmes will be extended to more colleges,” he said.

Sardar Hussain Babak informed the house that the heavy and overloaded trucks had been damaging the newly-constructed or repaired roads in the province, especially in the areas where marble was produced.

He said the government utilised billions of funds on the roads but they were damaged by trucks carrying marbles.

The chair later prorogued the session.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2017