Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority notifies 20pc concession in school fees for April, May

Updated April 09, 2020

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The authority has also barred private schools for collecting advance fees. — Dawn/File
The authority has also barred private schools for collecting advance fees. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) has issued a notification directing schools that charge more than Rs5,000 per month to give a 20pc concession in fees for the months of April and May.

The notification, issued on Wednesday, stated: “All private educational institutions must grant 20pc fee...for the month of April and May as financial relief to the parents, guardians due to nationwide lockdown owing to outbreak of coronavirus.”

It said the concession is not applicable to institutions that charge less than Rs5,000.

The authority has also barred private schools for collecting advance fees. The notification said: “Therefore, any challan already issued in violation of this policy may be cancelled and fresh feechallan for fee collection on monthly basis to be issued accordingly.”

Parents have been advised to pay fees in a timely manner, while schools have also been told to pay teaching and non-teaching staff their salaries on a regular basis and not to terminate their services.

Concession will only apply to schools that charge more than Rs5,000 per month

Punjab and Sindh previously directed private schools to reduce fees by 20pc in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as schools are closed across the country until May 31.

An association of parents who are contesting court cases against what they call exorbitant school fees have criticised Peira’s exemption for schools charging below Rs5,000 per month.

Hamid Khan, who is involved in a campaign against high school fees, said: “[The notification] is not in line with the practice followed in Punjab and Sindh, where relief is across the board.” He said Peira was answerable for this exemption in Islamabad, where most students go to schools that charge comparatively low fees.

“Technically, relief is not applicable to low-fee schools with sizeable students and [affected people]. This is against the principles of natural justice. The ministry of education and Peira have failed to safeguard fundamental rights and public interest by not implementing the Peira act to regulate private schools,” he said.

Peira Deputy Director Zafar Iqbal, who issued the notification, justified the exemption, arguing that schools that charge low fees have found it difficult to pay salaries and meet other expenses this month as it is.

He added: “We took this step to issue the notification to give relief to parents…now it is equally the responsibility of parents to deposit fees in a timely manner for the smooth functioning of schools.”

He said during the ongoing closure, schools are engaging students through online classes and social media.

Private Schools Association spokesperson Abdul Waheed said private schools have serious concerns about the 20pc concession, and school owners are considering holding a press conference and going to court against the notification.

“Although we have yet to make a final decision…I would say there should be a bar on parents depositing the ongoing month’s fees before April 15 and the next month’s before May 10 to avail the 20pc discount,” he said, adding: “We have termed this notification against private schools.”

Peira has yet to implement orders from the Supreme Court directing private schools to charge monthly fees in accordance to a base fee from January 2017 until the authority determine private school fees.

Wednesday’s notification also mentioned the Cambridge International examinations.

It said: “Regarding announcement of Cambridge International on school examination in May/June 2020 and subsequent policy the students who want to appear in CIEs upcoming examination in October/November series may be permitted with CIEs policy.

However rest of students may be dealt as per international policy of the school concerned.”

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020