A division bench of Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday took stern notice of the two-day strike called by private schools across the province and directed authorities to take administrative control and seal bank accounts of schools that participated in the strike.
The bench also directed the KP-Private Schools Regulatory Authority (PSRA) Managing Director Zafar Ali Shah to implement the newly formed regulations within one month.
The directives came as private schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained shut on Monday and Tuesday against new regulations issued by KP-PSRA. According to these regulations, private schools cannot charge more than half of the tuition fee from the second and third children of the same parents. The schools have also been asked to increase tuition fee by just three percent per annum and charge only 50 percent tuition fee during summer vacation.
Parents Flay Schools
Meanwhile, parents of students studying in private schools had also staged a protest against owners of the school for not honoring court orders. The protesting parents hailed PHC and KP-PSRA for taking action against private school owners who they said were “plundering people” by charging excessive fees and other expenditure in shape of fines under the pretext of education. Parents requested the court to not only ensure the implementation of these regulations but also initiate contempt of court proceedings against private school owners for not implementing the orders.
On the other hand, Private School Association (PSA) has termed the regulations “incomprehensible” and claimed that the PTI government had no real interest in education reforms. Talking to reporters, PSA President Yawar Naseer said that most of the schools operated in rented premises and they had to pay the rental expense and salary of teachers during vacations. “It is impossible for private schools owner to run their schools under these conditions and we will be compelled to close the schools,” Naseer said.
Responding to the claims, KP Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Atif Khan said in a video message that the government would never allow a monopoly of private school associations and would keep a strict check on fee structure, teachers’ salaries, textbooks taught and general standard of education. Khan also asserted that these regulations were only aimed at protecting the rights of parents and children, but PSA did not want any interference in their business. The education minister further claimed that they had taken all stakeholders in confidence before forming the PSRA and even four private school owners were elected in this association.
Khan added, “We are ready to sit with private schools’ owners and representatives and listen to their genuine demands and recommendations, but we will never step back from decisions which have been taken in favour of parents and their children.”