PESHAWAR: The private schools are forcing the parents to purchase books, uniforms and stationery items from selected outlets that fleece people by selling these items at higher prices, according to parents.

“The private schools’ compulsion to purchase books, uniforms and stationery from the selected bookshops is a violation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Private Schools Regulatory Authority Regulation, 2018,” a senior official told Dawn.

A disappointed parent said that streamlining the affairs of private schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was a gigantic task that would never be achieved. He said that owners of private schools were more influential than the provincial government. “The parents have only two forums to address their grievances that are government and court,” he added.

Section 7(4)(V) of the regulation states:“A school is not allowed to suggest or force students and their parents to purchase stationery, books, uniforms or any other thing from a particular outlet or entity.”

Despite being clearly mentioned in the regulations, the administration of the private schools handed over students the names of bookshops where their books and notebooks required for the final term would be available, one of the parents told Dawn.

Official says it is crime to force students to buy books, uniform from selected outlets

The Peshawar Model School having around a dozen educational institutions has asked the students to purchase textbooks and notebooks from the selected bookshops of the city.

“Dear parents, you are required to purchase these note books from: 1. Book Gallery, Gulbahar1, opposite Milad House, Ishrat Cinema Road. 2. Book Gallery, opposite Al-Farooq Bakery, Zaryab Colony, Peshawar City. 3. Book Gallery, I/S Sarki Gate, Peshawar City. 4. Welcome Stationers, Sunehri Masjid Road, Peshawar Cant.5. Welcome To Book Source, Bismillah Market Behind HMC, Phase IV,” reads a piece of paper provided to the students.

A father of two students told this scribe that after binding by the private schools to purchase books from their selected shops, the parents were charged highly. “I bought notebooks for 1st and fourth grade at Rs1,200,” he said, adding that it was injustice with the parents.

He said that he purchased a notebook having 90 pages from one of the selected shops at Rs50. However, the owner of another bookshop, which is not on the ‘panel’ of the private school, told Dawn that he was selling a notebook of 90 pages at Rs30 with a profit margin of Rs5.

The parents usually discussing the affairs of the private schools express disappointment, saying government and authorities did not provide any relief to them in fees.

It is worth mentioning that prior to the start of the summer vacations, the private schools regulatory authority had directed the private schools not to charge the tuition fee during the vacations and several other issues relating to fees were discussed at the level of Peshawar High Court and Supreme Court but no relief was provided to the parents.

Now the parents are perturbed as to how to pay the fee of the summer vacations they had not paid on the directives of the regulatory authority.

Tashfeen Haider, the managing director Private Schools Regulatory Authority, when contacted, said that private schools couldn’t force parents to purchase books and uniforms from the selected bookshops. “It is violation of the regulation and a punishable crime,” he said.

He said that parents must lodge complaints with the authority if they were forced by the private schools to purchase books from the selected bookshops. Under the regulation, he said, they could impose fine of Rs1,000 on the private schools for a violation.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019