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September 22, 2017

Govt, private schools’ associations at loggerheads over SHC orders


September 22, 2017

While the two private educational institutions at the heart of the fee hike matter were on Thursday directed by the Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institutions, Sindh (DIRPIS) to immediately implement the high court’s order and submit a report within three days, the All Private Schools Management Association said the decision was announced once before and was currently under review at the high court.

While the DIRPIS is a government body under the Sindh education department’s control, the APSMA is a private entity.  The DIRPIS’ directives came following a meeting held under the chairmanship of the education minister a day after the Sindh High Court restrained private schools from increasing the fee any more than five percent.

Speaking to The News, DIRPIS Registrar Rafia Mallah said the SHC’s judgment was announced after parents of students enrolled at the two private schools moved the court against the managements’ decision to raise the fee by 14 percent.

“The parents had also approached us with their complaint and while we were also struggling to have the fee raise reduced, the parents decided to also move the SHC,” said Rafia.      

She also recalled a similar petition filed in the SHC wherein the court had directed to reduce the fee, but the managements of the schools filed a review petition in the Supreme Court (SC).

However, the registrar stated that the apex court had referred the review petition back to the high court directing it to hold proceedings over the case on a regular basis; the court is yet to announce its decision on the particular petition.

She said that DIRPIS is like a law enforcing agency for schools which is doing its best to have the laws and regulations implemented but we do not have the power to arrest anyone in case there is a violation of law.

On the other hand, president of APSMA, Syed Khalid Shah, rejected the DIRPIS’ decision. “SHC decision is not new. Earlier, on a similar petition the court had given the same orders which was challenged by us in the apex court and is yet to be decided upon,” he said.

He added that it becomes extremely difficult for private schools to maintain quality education in low fee because the schools are bound to increase the salaries of its teachers by 10 percent annually.

As per tenancy laws, the owner of a building can increase the rent up to 10 percent annually, sometimes school owners are demanded to pay rent increased by 20 to 30 percent, Shah said.

He further stated that private schools owners are also responsible for ensuring security of their schools as per Sindh government’s directions. “Thus, it become difficult for owners to manage all of this in low fee,” said the APSMA president.     

Education minister’s meeting

Dahar had in the meeting announced that arrests will be made in the presence of a first class magistrate if laws are violated. Speaking at the meeting, Rafia said the DIRPIS had issued circulars to all registered schools and warned them of action if they increased the tuition fee any more than five percent.

The provincial minister said, “We acknowledge the role of private sector in spreading education in the society but we cannot allow them to create problems for parents and students.” He also directed the DIRPIS’ director general to ensure the SHC’s orders are implemented.

Speaking of the government’s policy about public sector teachers not being allowed to teach in private educational institutions, Dahar said that teachers found violating the rule will be taken to task.