LAHORE: Hundreds of parents and their different associations gathered at Liberty Roundabout on Saturday to protest against the Punjab government and private schools for not implementing orders of the Supreme Court about the fee issue.
The protesters hailed from Pakistan Education Movement (PEM), Parents Action Committee (PAC), Rah-i-Haq and Civil Society Network.
The parents were carrying placards and displaying banners against what they said illegal fee and chanting slogans against the indifference of the district education department.
They said private schools were allegedly threatening and harassing the students either to pay [exorbitant] fee or shift to public schools.
PAC General Secretary Sajeel Usmani apprised the charged parents about the legal standing after Supreme Court orders to freeze the fee raise to the 2017 level and linked any increase to the approval of a regulatory body.
He demanded that the Punjab government implement the Supreme Court’s and Lahore High Court’s orders in letter and spirit.
Another office-barrier Atifur Rehman said there were only 1,200 public schools in Lahore which were insufficient to cater to the needs of some 2.5 to three million students.
He said 6,000 private schools had turned into a ‘mafia’ which is not adhering to the law of land.
PEM representative Yaser Qurashi lamented the deteriorating quality of education in the province and said owners of private schools and the Punjab government were responsible for the fiasco.
He expressed his concerns over the recent restructuring of District Regulatory Authority (DRA) and said the government had included a PTI activist as representative of parents’ body and she had nothing to do with the aggrieved parents.
He said she was included on the basis of her association with the ruling party.
Civil society activist Abdullah Malik said the government should regulate the fee of the private schools and affordable and quality education throughout the country was the basic responsibility of the state.
Another activist of the movement Dr Faiqa Salman said the Punjab government was neglecting implementation of the SC decision.
The parents unanimously approved a resolution that they would not pay illegal fee and continued chanting slogan ‘No fee till legal and low fee”.
They also planned to continue protests against the government ‘failure’ in implementation of the SC order and they would also approach and engage opposition political parties to raise voice for their cause.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2019