ISLAMABAD: Private schools are charging parents unreasonably high fees in the name of quality education, said a lawmaker.

“The government should set a limit to stop schools earning unreasonable profits,” State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan told Senate Special Committee to Provide Mechanism for Implementation of Recommendations of the Senate Committees on Tuesday.

The committee met after Senator Manzoor Ahmed Khan raised the issue of private educational institutions charging fee for holidays.

“I can understand paying fees for the nine months children go to school but cannot understand why I have to deposit fees for the three months children are off,” said Mr Manzoor.Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) Chairman Imtiaz Ali Qureshi told the committee that under a Supreme Court decision in December 2018 private schools were asked to refund 50 per cent of the fee charged in the holidays of 2018.

The SC also directed private school owners to rationalise their fee by reducing it 20pc.“The private education institutions were also asked to bring their fee structure to the same level it was in Jan 2017, and then freeze the amount,” the official said.

The committee members observed that these orders were not being implemented. The members argued that schools had increased their fees before reducing it by 20pc.

Peira was directed to bring in the next meeting a comparative analysis of the grade-wise fee structure of big chains of private schools operating in Islamabad.

The state minister also asked Peira to monitor content of books being taught in private schools.

Mr Qureshi was cautioned by Mr Maznoor who felt that the official was defending the case of private school owners instead of supporting parents who were being fleeced.

Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2019