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PA wants private schools to give free education to disadvantaged students

Updated November 14, 2018

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The file photo shows a class room.— Mirza Khurrum Shahzad/File
The file photo shows a class room.— Mirza Khurrum Shahzad/File

KARACHI: As the provincial education minister warned the “elite” educational institutions to abide by rules, the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday demanded implementation of a law that bound private schools to provide free and compulsory education to “disadvantaged” children not less than 10 per cent of the total strength of a school.

A resolution to this effect was tabled by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Seema Zia on Tuesday, which is a private members’ day, and the house unanimously adopted it.

The resolution reads: “This house resolves that the government of Sindh to implement Section 10 of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013, which says private schools to provide at least 10 per cent free education to the disadvantaged children.”

The govt will not render people living in illegally constructed houses homeless

It demanded that the government take action against those private schools which did not comply with Section 10 of the said law.

Dr Zia lamented that despite lapse of five years to the passage of the law, formulation of its rules of business was still awaited.

She said certain private schools provided such facility to the children of their staff instead of helping the meritorious children from class one to class 10.

Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi suggested for establishment of a separate controlling authority to effectively regulate private schools.

Ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s Marui Rashdi and Heer Soho, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Rana Ansar and PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman also supported the resolution.

Karachi has 6,700 private schools

Education Minister Sardar Shah asked all the members of the house to join him to go to private schools, the “elitist” schools in particular, and force them to implement the law, which also bound them not to increase the fee by more than five per cent in a year.

“We should visit these schools, particularly the elitist schools, which I call as seven-star schools to force them to abide by the law or face de-registration then and there,” said the minister whose only child is enrolled with a government school.

He said at present a total of 12,670 private schools were registered across the province, of which 6,700 were in Karachi only. “We estimate some 5,000 to 7,000 schools in Sindh are not registered with us.”

Mr Shah said the Supreme Court had ordered the private schools to deposit the amount they charged over five per cent annual tuition fee to the registrar of the apex court. However, he added the schools had not yet complied with the court order.

He said there were 13 elite school chains operating in the province and “if we get two of them de-registered [for violating the law of the land] it would cause others to respect the law”.

Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani placed the resolution before the house, which carried it unanimously.

Opposition stages walkout

Earlier, the house rejected a resolution with majority vote tabled by Grand Democratic Alliance lawmaker Nusrat Sehar Abbasi calling for removal of two MNAs and three senators from a committee formed by the chief minister for the welfare of non-Muslims.

All major opposition parties in the house — PTI, MQM-P and GDA — staged a walkout in protest over the rejection of the resolution.

However, PTI’s Seema Zia chose to stay in the house, saying she would prefer to table her resolution, which was more important for the welfare of the people.

Lone Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal lawmaker Abdul Rasheed was the only opposition member who stayed in the house along with her.

The protesting opposition members, however, returned to the house in a few minutes.

MQM-P’s Mohammad Hussain tabled an adjournment motion regarding absence of public transport in Karachi.

Transport Minister Awais Shah said the mass transit system had got delayed because of continuous “U-turns” by the federal government.

The motion, however, was ruled out by Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari, who was then chairing the house, for being a general statement.

Govt won’t evict people living in illegal houses

MMA’s Rasheed tabled a resolution calling for a ban on construction of high-rise buildings in Lyari where, he said, people were already deprived of basic amenities

Responding to the resolution, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said that the people living in illegal buildings could not be rendered homeless. However, action against such under-construction buildings was already under way, he added.

He said it would be hard for the low-income people to buy another house if they were forcibly removed from the illegally-constructed buildings.

However, thousands of buildings got constructed in the presence of relevant authorities, he said referring to the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) as well as those involved in offering bribes.

Mr Naqvi termed such bribes as “speed money” to cut through the official red tape.

Mr Ghani said the LG department was working on a mechanism to offer one-window operation for the approval of building plans.

Mr Rasheed said in his resolution that Lyari was deprived of basic facilities where the law permitted for the construction of ground-plus-one-storey buildings; yet around 200 buildings were being built in violation of that provision.

He said Lyari had 80 sanitary workers in the 1980s and now the populous area had just 20.

Call to ban high-rise construction

MQM-P’s Mohammad Hussain said a ban on illegal construction be imposed across Karachi. He said residential districts were being turned into commercial ones unlawfully.

PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman supported the resolution while Opposition Leader Naqvi claimed the SBCA had turned into a “centre of corruption”. He said development should not be stopped but better infrastructure be ensured first.

MQM-P’s parliamentary party leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel said a limited ban be imposed on high-rises in the city until existing infrastructure was replaced with an improved one.

Mr Rasheed withdrew the resolution on assurance of the LG minister that the issue would be looked into.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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