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PESHAWAR: Owners of the private schools closed campuses and staged demonstrations across the province on Monday against the fresh fee regulations by their regulator.

They announced that the protest would continue today (Tuesday) and therefore, their educational institutions won’t open for the second consecutive day.

However, few elite private schools remained open.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Private Schools Regulatory Authority managing director Syed Zafar Ali Shah warned that strict action would be taken against private schools if their protest prolonged.

Also in the day, parents and lawyers protested outside the Peshawar High Court against the private schools accusing them of opposing the court’s guidelines on tuition fee.

They demanded the strict enforcement of fee regulations made by the authority.

In light of the Peshawar High Court’s decision, the regulatory authority recently asked private schools not to charge more than half of the tuition fee from the second and third children of the same parents. Also, it allowed the schools to increase tuition fee three per cent annually and charge only 50 per cent tuition fee during the summer vacation.

Private Educational Institutes Management Association president Yawar Naseer led the protest outside the Peshawar Press Club, where dozens of private school owners participated in it shouting slogans against the regulator.

He said the demonstrations by private schools were staged outside press clubs at district level across the province.

Mr Naseer told Dawn that the fee structure circulated by the regulatory authority went against the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Private Schools Regulatory Authority Act, 2017.

“It is the constitutional responsibility of the government to provide free and compulsory education to the children up to 16 years but the provincial government instead of fulfilling it had begun creating hurdles to the operation of private schools.

It should launch a voucher scheme to provide quality education to the people in private schools,” he said.

The PEIMA president said the demonstration was attended by the private school owners from Charsadda, Nowshera, Kohat and Mardan.

He said the government spent Rs3,000-Rs4,000 on every student of its schools but that expenditure failed to deliver the goods.

“The quality of education will increase manifold if the same amount is spent on private school students through the voucher scheme,” he said.

The regulatory authority’s chief, Zafar Ali Shah, told Dawn that fee structure for private schools had been made in light of the law and the PHC’s guidelines.

“We don’t care about the protest of private schools. Our area of interest is students and parents,” he said.

He warned private schools against prolonging the protest and said strict action would be taken against them if that happened.

In Mansehra, too, the private school owners closed campuses and protested the ‘anti-education’ policies of the provincial government.

Holding banners and placards, they marched on Chakia Road shouting slogans against the government.

Raja Naseem, who led the protest, warned the private educational institutions would be closed for an indefinite period if their demands were not met.

In Chitral, a rally was taken out by the owners of private schools against fresh fee and monitoring regulations.

President of the Private Institutions Management Association Wajeehuddin asked the government not to ‘unduly’ interfere in the affairs of private schools.

In Lakki Marwat city, too, the owners and heads of private schools held a demonstration against their regulator.

They took out a rally from outside a private school in Mohallah Haqdadabad and marched on Tajazai Darra Tang and Old Kutcheri roads before demonstrating near the press club building.

In Buner, private schools closed campuses with their owners staging a protest against the regulatory authority.

Amid sloganeering, the protesters totaling around 200 demanded the immediate withdrawal of the fresh fee regulations.

The private school owners also staged demonstrations in Battagram and other districts.

In Upper Dir, scores of parents took to the streets against the closure of private schools.

They marched on different roads and demonstrated in Dir Chowk.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018