Private schools ignore govt’s policy on fee regulation

Published October 11, 2021
In this file photo, a teacher stands in front of her classroom. — Photo by Mirza Khurram Shehzad/File
In this file photo, a teacher stands in front of her classroom. — Photo by Mirza Khurram Shehzad/File

ISLAMABAD: The issue related to fee regulation of private schools is still undecided as operators of some schools have obtained stay orders against a government policy notified in August.

The Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) is supposed to regulate the fees of all private schools in Islamabad but so far it has failed to do so.

On the other hand, private schools have been charging fees on their own even though parents have staged a number of protests.

In August this year, Peira notified a new policy, directing private schools not to increase their fees by more than 5pc.

Due to stay order granted by Islamabad High Court, we are unable to implement fee regulatory policy, says Peira

It said private schools can increase their fees by five per cent from the baseline fee structure of 2017. However, the policy was not implemented by private schools and some of them moved the court and obtained a stay order.

“Due to the stay order granted by Islamabad High Court (IHC), we are unable to enforce the fee regulatory policy, but are pursuing the case,” said Zafar Yousafzai, a spokesperson for Peira.

Speaking to Dawn, he said Peira has also formulated new rules and sent them to the Ministry of Education for approval.

Earlier in its policy, the authority had stated that any institution demanding more than five per cent annual increase “shall be required to establish a case based on rationality and keeping in view the extraordinary additional facilities available and quality of education”.

It added: “The beyond five per cent increase in fee shall range from six to eight per cent on an annual basis.”

“All PEIs (private educational institutions) shall charge a fee as per the rates which were being charged during the academic session 2016-17,” the policy said, adding institutions which wanted to increase their fees by more than five per cent would have to apply to Peira to get permission.

The policy also stated that the institutions “shall be bound to duly declare the fee structure, school’s internal policy, if any, and other charges to parents prior to granting admission and to maintain transparency in sharing the fee structure, including monthly and tuition fee, annual charges, development charges or any other charges.”

There shall be no increase in fee at any level during an ongoing academic session.

“PEIs shall charge fees on a monthly basis only. In case of late fee submission, the school may waive the late fee charges (fine), however, the imposition of fine shall be as follows.

“In case of a fee due in 30 days, the fine shall not exceed five per cent of the actual fee. In case of a fee due in 60 days, the fine shall not exceed 10pc.”

The policy said all schools will make public disclosure of ‘Schedule for financial charges’ with the parents/students prior to admitting any student at any level of study.

“There shall be no charges at all other than those mentioned in the Schedule to be duly acknowledged by the parent/student accordingly,” the policy said. It also barred private schools from compelling students to buy school items from specific vendors/shops.

“Notebooks printed with logos and embroidered/stitched/printed uniform badges shall be strictly prohibited. However, school branding (logo) shall only be done through pin badges and stickers for notebooks (if required).”

In 2016 too, the regulatory authority had notified rules for regulating fee and for other purposes but most of the rules were struck down by court.

Abdul Waheed, a spokesperson for the Private School Association, said: “Private schools have concern over the policy notified by Peira in August this year. The policy stated that private schools can increase their fee by five per cent from the baseline fee structure of 2017 - a clause which is against the schools as in recent years inflation has jumped to manifold.” he said and added that the matter was still in court.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2021

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