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July 5, 2020

Relief package for private educators, students demanded

Islamabad

July 5, 2020

Islamabad : Participants of the webinar on private education system in the COVID-19 era urged the government to urgently respond to the needful in the state of emergency by allocating funds for the relief to deserving parents, small and medium-sized schools. They said governments world over have given special packages to the students and our government should also focus on the health and education sectors.

The representatives of the private schools mentioned no relief is given to private schools of any tier except the bank loans at discounted rates after pledging the school assets. Only some of the top tier schools could benefit from this scheme. What about the low-fee schools housed in rented houses in lower-middle-class areas?

Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and DTNTV jointly organised the webinar on ‘Private Schools: Challenges and Responsibilities” on Saturday.

About 100 participants showed off including parents, teachers, school management, and reps of the private schools’ association and civil society to make the webinar a big success. Senator Sitara Ayaz and Deputy Mayor Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad Zeeshan Naqvi and Zafar Iqbal, Deputy Director of the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) were among the guest speakers. Devcom-Pakistan and DTNTV Director Munir Ahmed conducted the webinar.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Sitara Ayaz urged the regulatory authority to take stakeholders on board for consolidated recommendations for the government act upon in letter and spirit to provide relief to the students and parents, and also to the schools were necessary for the state of COVID-19 emergency. We all are going through a miserable phase where we need government support besides shouldering each other. Despite hue and cry we see no plan of action so far.

Zeeshan Naqvi, Deputy Mayor MCI, said their organisation is available for any possible support the private schools need to facilitate the students and parents at large. He urged the PEIRA to form a permanent forum including parent, civil society reps and other stakeholders for regular interaction to improve private education in federal capital at least.

Devcom-Pakistan Director Munir Ahmed said that PEIRA needs to improve its communication of policies and implementation mechanisms that are quite poor. Unfortunately, the positive impact of the policies and actions is hardly seen on ground whereas parents are arrested in miseries in a wish to get a quality education for their children. Congested premises, mediocre teachers, heavy fees, no playgrounds and grooming, and many money-minting tactics are the major issues that need to be addressed sooner than later.

Zafar Iqbal briefed about the scope and mandate of the PEIRA and mentioned that a set of recommendations was prepared and submitted to the ministry of federal education.

The recommendations include a relief package for all types of schools, teachers, and students. A national conference, he said, is expected on July 8 to review the emergency situation and post-COVID-19 scenario for the private education system beside the public educational institutions.

Rabia Amin said many schools have no discount policy even anyone of three children of a single parent. Books, notebooks, and uniforms all are provided by the schools but at very high prices without any check by the regulatory authority.

Chief Patron of the Private Schools Association Dr Ifrahim Satti said private schools are catering 40 million students, and most of them are low-fee schools that are facing a financial crunch. Without any relief package, more than 20 per cent schools would shut down their doors that would create another problem while 50 million children are already out of school. Among others who spoke on the occasion included Rehana Jahangir, Dr Waqar Maqsood, Khattak, Dr Anas, Tariq Jawed, Najeeb, Farzin Khan, Hafsa Khan, and Sahar Pirzada.