Three decisions put private education sector in quandary

  • Dr Afzal Babur questions whether court orders would also be applicable on army institutions

ISLAMABAD: Three different decisions given by three high courts pertaining to summer vacation fee further complicated things for the private sector schools having networks in major cities of the country.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) in its order dated May 18, 2018, barred all the private educational institutions in the federal capital from receiving fee for the period of summer vacations and the amount of fee already paid by the parents/students shall be adjusted against fee for the period after vacations.

Similarly, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has directed the private schools not to collect the summer vacation fee in advance but did not bare them from taking the fee, while the Peshawar High Court (PHC) directed that the private schools should collect 50% of the fee in the summer vacation.

The three different decisions have put the private sector having branches in various cities across the country in quandary as how they could manage their affairs, though the private schools in the federal capital did not comply with the court orders and received the fee as per set rules on the plea that the double bench of IHC annulled the single bench decision.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Private School Network President Dr Muhammad Afzal Babur said that the courts’ orders created great confusion for the private sector especially for those having networks of schools in different cities. He said that they would accept the court order whatsoever it would be.

However, he questioned whether the court orders would also be applicable on the institutes of the armed forces which were taking full fees of the summer vacation. He said that the private schools increased the fees on the demand of the parents who wished their children could learn swimming, horse riding etc for which obviously they have to pay additional fees.

Dr Afzal Babur said that the 18th constitutional amendment ‘disturbed’ the education system because all the provinces were making separate legislation and persuading different type of the education system while Islamabad is hanging in the balance.

Despite the IHC decision, the private schools are building pressure on parents to submit summer vacations fee to obtain their children’s examination results due to ineptness of the Private Education Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA), which as usual failed to implement the court order.

However, later it created great confusion when the double bench of IHC annulled the decision of the single bench and the schools started issuing notices to the parents with daunting tone to clear the dues otherwise the results of the students would not be given. “You are requested to kindly clear the dues of Jun-July 2018 to obtain your child’s result. The due date has been extended till June 4, enabling you to pay the fee without any fine being levied. For your convenience, challan issued to you earlier can be used to pay the fee,” read a private school message to parents.

To which Dr Afzal Babur stated that the private schools were receiving fee since the double bench of IHC declared void the single bench decision and the case to be heard again on June 20, 2018. Taking notice of the rising complains by the parents, PEIRA had to issue again an order restraining the private educational institutions from collecting summer vacations fee and declared the demand in violation of the court orders.

The notice issued said that the receipt of summer vacations fee by the private schools of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) was in violation of the court order dated May 18, 2018. The notice stated that in pursuance of the IHC order, the owners and management of the private schools functioning within the territorial jurisdiction of ICT were directed, through a public notice in leading newspapers dated May 20, 2018, to restrain from receiving monthly tuition fee and other charges for summer vacations for the period from June 1 to August 12, 2018.

The order said that in the light of the said court order, institutions were further directed that amount of fee already paid by the parents and guardians of students (if any) shall be adjusted against fee for the period after summer vacations.

The notification stated that it has come to the notice of this authority that some private educational institutions violated instructions and sent a circular and SMS messages to the parents with the direction to deposit summer vacations fee on the basis of false premise that a stay order has been granted by the division bench of IHC against the earlier order.

“All private educational institutions are hereby once again directed to comply with the court order dated May 18, 2018, in true letter and spirit,” the order stated. The notice said that the institutions were further directed to withdraw communication (if any) made to the parents for depositing summer vacations fee, in the same manner as it was conveyed to the parents, with immediate effect and under intimation of the office of the authority.

Despite repeated attempts, PEIRA Member (academics) Imtiaz Qureshi could not be reached for his comments on the issue.


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