ISLAMABAD: According to the new notification issued on Monday by the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira), a 20pc concession in fees has been offered to parents paying more than Rs8,000 per month.
Last year, Peira had notified a 20pc fee concession in all schools charging more than Rs5,000, to facilitate parents from the middle and lower middle classes. However, this time round, the 20pc fee concession was given only to people paying Rs8,000 per month.
“Providing relief to parents, whose children are studying in upscale schools is a good step but majority of students in Islamabad are pursuing their education in schools charging less than Rs8000 per month and their parents are facing a hard time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so there should be some relief for them too,” a parent pointed out.
“Owing to spike in Covid-19 positive cases, Private Educational Institutions are advised to grant concession of 20pc in the monthly fee of students with effect from April 2021 till reopening of private educational institutions. However, the said concession policy is not applicable on Private Educational Institutions charging monthly fee less than 8000 PKR,” read the notification issued by Peira.
It further added that fee challan [if already issued/paid for April/May, 2021] contrary to above fee concession policy, needs to be adjusted in next month’s fee whereas parents/guardians are also advised to pay fee in a timely manner.
When contacted, Peira Deputy Director Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai said that the regulatory body received the majority of applications/demands for fee concessions from parents whose students are pursuing education in upscale schools. “So, keeping in view the demands of parents, the authority decided to grant a 20pc fee reduction for schools charging more than Rs8,000 per month,” he said.
When asked about what the rationale behind this decision is, contrary to the concession granted last year, he claimed: “Actually, the main issue was of upscale schools, which charge fees more than Rs8,000 per month,” he said.
In Islamabad, there are three types of private schools, upscale schools charging more than Rs8,000, middle-class schools charging Rs3,000 to Rs8,000 per month and other schools charging Rs1,000 to Rs3,000 per month. Sources said that during the pandemic, schools charging lower fees faced a setback as due to constant closure, parents belonging to the lower-middle class, have not been paying fees regularly so these types of schools are struggling for survival. But the other two categories, mainly upscale schools are constantly receiving fees even during the closure.
When contacted, a senior officer of the Education Ministry defended the notification and said that some schools are struggling for survival and the government is exploring options for a bailout package for them. Upon being asked why the benchmark was increased from Rs5,000 to Rs8,000 for getting a 20pc fee concession, he, like Peira’s official, said the real issue was related to upscale schools.
Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2021