LAHORE: The private schools are allegedly defying the Supreme Court order as well as the government’s instructions to implement the order against excessive fee, Dawn has learnt.
The government has warned the schools to rationalise the fee in accordance with Supreme Court orders forthwith; otherwise, it will start criminal proceedings against the owners and administrators of the schools failing to comply with.
The owners of the private schools appear to be reluctant to bring down the fee, citing reasons that it was impossible for them to run their institutions on ‘reduced fee structure’.
Schools, parents accuse each other of misinterpreting verdict
The Supreme Court judgement had decided that private schools would charge fees in accordance with fees in 2017, with a 5pc annual increase.
In a detailed judgement, the SC decided that private schools would charge the same fees as in January 2017. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, who authored the judgment, also expressed concerns over reports that schools had raised fees excessively since 2017.
The government had constituted a five-member district registering authority (DRA) to implement the orders of the apex court. The authority had received around 350 complaints from parents from different areas of the city against the schools that were not following SC directions about the fee.
Around 150 complaints were received against the Beaconhouse School System, 140 against Lahore Grammar School, 18 against LACAS and 11 against City School.
Parents Action Committee (PAC) Secretary General Sajeel Usmani said most of the elite schools were not implementing the orders of the SC to freeze uncontrolled fee increase to 2017 level or link any increase to the approval of a DRA. He said they were registering complaints against the private schools for implementation of the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court prevailing orders with an iron hand. He said the government was the actual petitioner in the SC against the LHC verdict and it had won favorable decision but the government was expressing its inability to implement the court orders.
Mr Usmani said the private schools were interpreting the decision of the apex court on their own.
District Education Authority Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pervaiz Akhtar said the DRA had held its first meeting three days ago to make a plan to implement the SC orders. He said the DRA members had also reviewed complaints of the parents to address their grievances and had issued notices to several private school branches for personal hearing.
“The authority has also imposed Rs0.6m fine on various private school branches for violating the SC order.”
Mr Akhtar said the authority was imposing fine on schools first for not implementing the SC orders, it would again impose a major fine as second step before finally lodging a criminal case against the owner and administrator of the school.
Private School Association (PSA) President Zofran Elahi told Dawn the schools were completely implementing the orders of the apex court. He said the parents were interpreting the court orders according to their will and the administrations of the schools had replied to them time and again about it.
“The parents who could not afford private schools fee should get their children registered with the public schools and they should stop harassing the administrations of the private schools,” Mr Elahi said.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2019