Punjab govt, private schools stick to their guns on fee hike

LAHORE     -     Private educational institutions and the Punjab government have locked horns over fee hike recalculation after the SC detailed verdict. Private schools have filed a review petition while the government has initiated steps to implement the verdict. A three-member bench consisting of Supreme Court Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan issued detailed verdict in the parents versus private schools case, ordering recalculation of schools fees using the fee applicable in 2017 as base fee in accordance with the provision of laws in Punjab and Sindh. The process of recalculation shall be supervised by the regulators and only the fee approved by them shall be treated as chargeable fee.The court also ordered that any excess fee found to have been charged shall be adjusted in the future fee.It is pertinent to mention that the verdict does not apply to schools charging Rs4,000 or less. As per law, the maximum increase in annual fee could be five percent to 8 percent and some of private schools like Beacon House and Lahore Grammar School increased fees by 24 percent with the accent of regulators.All Pakistan Private Schools Federation President Kashif Mirza told The Nation that the federation has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.The SC judgement stated that schools should be allowed to earn profit which is their right under Article 18 but there should be no profiteering, fleecing or exploitation.He said the media misreported the detailed judgement without reading it. “The point 50 in verdict is about fee calculation mechanism. It asked to return the fee structure to 2017 and make a baseline for recalculation of the fee structure,” he said.Mirza said five percent increase is allowed as per law and since 2017 the legal 15 percent fee hike is automatically counted. He alleged that the Punjab Education Department, instead of consulting legal experts, is now involved straight away in recalculations. He defended the fee hike. School Education Secretary Muhammad Mahmood told The Nation the department is committed to fully implementing the court orders. “We have already written a letter to all deputy commissioners/administrations/ district education authorities/chairman of district regulatory authorities/CEO of DAEs in Punjab to ensure complete compliance with the SC judgement,” he said.


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