Parents across Sindh found much to rejoice on Monday morning as the Sindh High Court (SHC) restricted private schools in the province from hiking up school fees by more than five percent per year.
A three-member SHC bench of Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, Mohammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Ashraf Jahan resumed hearing into the case on Monday and passed its verdict in favour of hundreds of parents who approached the court for relief. The parents committee had moved the court against repetitive and arbitrary increases in fees by administration of private schools in violation of the Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Ordinance 2001.
The SHC bench had reserved its judgment in June this year.
The crisis over school fee hikes dates as far back as September 2015, when parents in Punjab began protests against massive increases in school fees by private institutions. Since then, the movement has spread to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, where parents have been demanding the authorities restrain private school administration from increasing tuition fees at will.
In a similar petition, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) in November ordered a ban on increase in tuition fees by private schools until the provincial government formed a uniform policy regarding the matter. It had also ruled that the schools could not collect more than half of the tuition fee for vacations that extend over 30 days and had declared an annual ‘promotion fee’ illegal. The PHC had also directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government to set up a regulatory authority in accordance with KP Private Schools Regulatory Authority Act 2017, which the government did earlier this year.
In April, the a division bench of PHC had taken notice of the two-day strike called by private schools across the KP province against notified regulations about fees and directed authorities to take administrative control and seal bank accounts of schools that participated in the strike.
In June, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had rejected a plea by private schools for interim relief against the PHCs judgement.