Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has constituted a committee to probe allegations of unlawful tuition fee hike by some private school administrations.
The news will definitely be a relief for parents who have been trying to draw the authorities’ attention to their plight for long. The issue has resurfaced following an earlier similar disagreement over fee hike between the Punjab government and the joint body of private school administrations (APPSF) in the preceding years.
Affected parents had announced a protest campaign against fee hikes – which they claimed had been as much as 15% in some instances – forcing the Punjab CM to take notice of the situation. In accordance with the Punjab Private Educational Institutions Bill, private schools are only allowed a fee hike of five percent each year, beyond which the school authorities need special permission and approval from the respective District Education Authority.
According to a news report, the committee headed by Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Shamail Ahmad Khawaja held a meeting at the Punjab Civil Secretariat the other day. The meeting was attended by Punjab Examination Commission Chairman Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, Punjab Schools Education Secretary Allah Bakhsh Malik, Punjab Higher Education Secretary Nabeel Ahmad Awan as well as deputy secretaries Saba Asghar Ali, Abdul Rehman Khagga and Muhammad Yunis.
Allah Bakhsh Malik told participants that complaints forwarded by agitated parents regarding the unscheduled hike in school fees were regularly taken up by the authorities concerned, adding that the CM had taken notice of recent complaints in this regard.
He said the CM had asked for a detailed evaluation of the complaints as well as a mechanism to to effectively implement the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion & Regulations) Amended Ordinance 2017.
ACS Khawaja proposed the reorganization of district enforcement committees, suggesting the inclusion deputy commissioners and district police officers as conveners and co-conveners. The committee will be submitting its report to the CM in the coming days.