LAHORE: The Punjab government has announced 20 per cent concession in tuition fee of private schools in the province for the months of April and May 2020 in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak but the Parents Action Committee (PAC) and schools rejected it.
Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas held a meeting with Parents Action Committee (PAC) members on Monday and announced 20pc concession in the tuition fee.
The PAC said the meeting was inconclusive and demanded that the government first implement the Supreme Court order [June last year] about fee cut because the government was yet to determine fee first and later give 20pc concession on the remaining fee.
He said the government was standing by parents [in this difficult time] and was taking measures to provide relief to them. He said no other provincial government had taken any measure about fee concession in their province and all private schools administration were directed to only demand one month fee.
Parents, schools reject decision and come up with their own arguments
The minister said parents should not pay more than one month fee at a time and if any school was not implementing it they must report it to the department.
He said they would take action against violators.
He also tweeted, “All Private School Fees to be discounted by 20% for the months of April & May 2020. CM @UsmanAKBuzdar just made the announcement. School Education Department wants to help the parents of Punjab in these difficult times. We will stand by you. #StayHomeSaveLives”.
Meanwhile, Sardar Usman Buzdar also tweeted that the government had directed private schools in the province to give 20pc concession in tuition fee in addition to collecting the fee of the following two months separately.
He also said no employee should lose his job.
The PAC members in their video message said Mr Raas had called a meeting with them but did not discuss anything with them and announced concession on his own.
They said it was a ‘failed’ negotiation and the minister had called them for a ‘photo session’ and “we reject 20pc concession in tuition fee.”
They said the government was to set the fee structure but after passing of 10 months nothing was done to implement the SC order.
They said the SC had also ordered to recover their additionally submitted fee since 2017 but it was also not implemented.
They said CM Buzdar had asked about 50pc discount in fee and they demanded that 20pc was not enough for them.
While talking about online learning management system (LMS) they said they were in support of online education as it was a proven tool across the world.
However, they pointed out that most schools in Pakistan were not in line with basic principles of online education model followed across the world. “We appreciate teachers’ efforts for starting online classes without any formal training but this is not going to work until following some fundamental norms and learning management system for online education,” the panel said.
Private School Association President Zofran Elahi said 80pc of schools did not have capacity and can’t afford any concession in fee and the administrations also did not have any bank balance to pay salaries of the teachers and rent of buildings of the schools. “The government should also announce 20pc cut in salaries and rent of the buildings or subsidy for the schools,” he said.
He apprehended that most of the schools would close and claimed that recently three schools were closed in Islamabad.
He said the government was taking measures without knowing about ground realities and checking facts. “We cannot give fee concession as we have already reduced the fee on the orders of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020