PESHAWAR: Owners of private educational institutions have expressed serious concern over delay in payment of funds under the provincial government’s voucher scheme and warned to launch a protest campaign if the matter is not resolved within a week.

Speaking at a press conference in Peshawar Press Club on Saturday, Private Education Network (PEN) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial vice-president Fazalullah Daudzai said that the outstanding dues amounting to Rs1.8 billion should be cleared by the Elementary Education Foundation (EEF), an autonomous government organisation, to private schools because the delay in disbursement of funds had caused serious financial problems for the institutions.

Flanked by other office-bearers of PEN and owners of private schools, Mr Daudzai said that the government had introduced Iqra Farogh-i-Talim as a special initiative in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the objective to enrol out-of-school children between the age of five and 16 residing in poor areas in the province through the voucher scheme and thus the private schools supported it in the best national interest.

However, he said that the EEF was using delaying tactics to release the payment to over 4,400 schools since last one and half years, which could put future of the students at stake.

He said that the scheme was catering to education needs of over 52,000 out-of-school children. He said that the private schools were playing a very effective role in imparting quality education to students and thus they deserved encouragement.

The PEN vice-president said that there were reports about misuse of the voucher scheme’s funds. He said that the payments were not ensured though three inquiries had been conducted regarding the funds.

He warned that if the EEF failed to release the funds to private schools within a week, the owner of private educational institutions along with the students would stage a protest outside the provincial assembly building.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2019