The Punjab government is in the process of drafting new legislation as well as establishing a regulatory body that can monitor private schools in Punjab for various issues like fee hikes and other complaints by parents.

Following an event on October 1, Punjab School Education Minister Dr Murad Raas laid out the government’s plan of regulating private schools in Punjab. He said an authority would be established through legislation, which would be gotten passed by the Punjab Assembly. He further said parents and teachers would be made part of the authority. The move means a change in the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion & Regulations) (Amendment) Act 2017.

The minister first hinted at some of the changes in regulation of private schools during a meeting with parents on September 13. Dr Raas had met a representative group of parents who have been protesting against arbitrary fee hikes by private school administration for quite some time. In the meeting, the minister said a regulatory authority would be established to maintain effective checks and balances on private schools in the province. He also assured the parents that a complaint cell would be set up to resolve their complaints, adding that he would personally monitor their performance. The minister had also made his intentions public via a tweet the same day.

During the meeting on September 13, parents told the minister about various issues being faced by parents and children. They said students in private schools who failed to pay their dues in time were barred from sitting exams and were even locked up in libraries by some private school administrations. They said the children were facing health issues because of such tactics by private schools.

The parents’ representatives presented a four-point demand agenda to the minister that included a uniform regulatory mechanism that would check private school fee rise against their expenses. The second demand was implementation of the Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2014 that binds private schools to provide free education to 10 percent of the children that cannot afford education in these schools. The parents’ other demands included the introduction of fee concession schemes such as sibling discounts to lessen the burden on the middle-class parents as well as a third party audit of private schools.

Meanwhile, concerned parents have been taking to the streets to stage token protests against private schools as well as pursuing legal action against what they claim to be “illegal fee hike by some schools in violation of court orders”.

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