Punjab Minister for School Education Dr Murad Raas has said that the provincial government would ensure implementation of the Supreme Court orders regarding private school fees at all costs. During a press talk on Friday in Lahore, Raas said the recommendations regarding an authority to monitor private schools and their affairs were with the provincial law ministry and the government would presented it in the Punjab Assembly soon.
Last week, Raas told a press conference that a comprehensive strategy had been finalised to achieve the goal of improving education in the province and three new bills had been prepared in this regard, including the Punjab Private Education Reform Bill 2018.
The minister’s press briefing on Friday in Lahore followed Thursday’s landmark orders by the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding private school fees, wherein it ordered all private schools charging more than Rs 5,000 in monthly fee to slash the same by 20 percent. The Supreme Court also allowed an automatic annual increase in private school fees of only five percent, adding that any annual increase of fee of more than five percent would require a prior and formal approval of the authority concerned.
Besides the fee slashing, the apex court also ordered private school administrations to refund or adjust of 50% of the summer fees to parents. But what could probably be the greatest threat to the hegemony of private schools in the country was the top court’s directives to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to probe the accounts of directors/owners of private schools.
In his press talk on Friday, Dr Raas made it clear that the Punjab government would follow the SC directives. He said school charging monthly fee of more than Rs 5,000 would have return twenty percent of the charge from the December fee to parents. The minister said 50% of the summer vacation fees charged to parents would be gotten adjusted in the fees for coming months, adding that December 31 would be the last date for schools to return or adjust fees in line with SC orders.
Raas said the authority proposed for monitoring private schools would include representatives of parents and private schools as well. He added that any school against which complaints of low salaries of teachers was received would have its registration cancelled.
The proposed legislation regarding education in Punjab is part of the three new bills drafted by the PTI Punjab government that aim to transform the education sector in the province. The bills include Punjab Educational Professionals Standards Council Bill 2018, Punjab Private Education Reform Bill 2018 and Punjab School Truancy and Compulsory Admission Bill 2018.