The Sindh Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution urging the Sindh government to ensure that private schools should provide free of charge education to at least 10 per cent of their students in accordance with the law.
The call to bind Sindh’s private schools to the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act-2013 was made in a resolution passed on the private members’ day of the house. An MPA of the opposition party, Dr Seema Zia of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, moved the resolution.
It states: “This House resolves that the Government of Sindh to implement Section 10 of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act-2013 which says private schools to provide at least 10 per cent free education to the disadvantaged children. Further, the Government should take action against those private schools which do not comply with Section 10 of the said Act.”
The resolution further adds that the government should take all possible measures to implement the said law and to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five to sixteen.
Speaking on the resolution, Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah said that they could not do politics on the future of children and he announced to support the resolution as its contained praiseworthy content.
The minister clarified in the House that private schools could not increase tuition fee by more than five per cent on an annual basis. He conceded that the controlling agency of private schools had failed to rein in privately-run educational institutions in the province.
Shah said that concerned parents had to move the court when the Education Department had failed to deliver on the issue of increase in tuition fee by private schools. According to the education minister, in accordance with the court orders, he had written seven letters to the management of private schools to refund the extra fee earlier collected by them but to no avail. He said schools have till early next month to implement the court orders; after that the government would start definitive action against errant schools.
Next time the provincial government would simply rescind registration of the private school which would not abide by the government’s rules and regulations, he said. “Next time like the Indian film Nayak, I’ll sit on a laptop and immediately get a notice out of it to paste on the wall of a [errant] school.”
Shah further said that the government was willing to form a committee having the representation of the government, Opposition, and civil society to take swift and indiscriminate action against private schools not abiding by the government’s rules and regulations.
According to the education minister, 12,670 registered private schools operate in the province, while some 6,000 to 7,000 were not registered. He said that a private school should exist on a plot having the minimum size of 229 square yards so that it could provide adequate academic opportunities to its students.
Earlier, the Opposition lawmakers walked out from the house after vociferous protest as a private resolution of their colleague legislator Nusrat Seher Abbasi of the Grand Democratic Alliance was rejected through majority vote.
The resolution demanded that five members of the newly-constituted committee for the welfare of religious minorities, constituted by the Sindh Minority Affairs Department, should be replaced by representatives of the Opposition parties who belong to minority communities. It said that the inclusion of three Senators and two MNAs in the said committee was in total negation to the spirit of devolution of power enshrined in the 18th Constitutional Amendment as both social welfare and minority affairs have been devolved to the provinces.
Meanwhile, Syed Abdul Rasheed, a lawmaker of Opposition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, withdrew his private resolution regarding a ban on the construction of high-rise buildings in Lyari. The MMA lawmaker withdrew his resolution on assurance from Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani who said the government would make sure that the Sindh Building Control Authority takes action against the instances of illegal multi-storied buildings in Lyari if evidence were provided to the authorities to prove their unauthorised status.
Earlier, Sindh Excise & Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla informed the House that during the recent recovery drive conducted for 11 days by the Excise Department, Rs700 million in unpaid annual motor vehicle tax had been collected, which, he said, was a record recovery in such a short span in the country.