–Elite schools admin reluctant to abide by top court’s orders, says ‘GCE falls under college category’
–School education minister disagrees, says schools will have to reduce tuition fees by Feb 12
LAHORE: The ever-increasing tuition fees of O and A Level students have left parents distressed across the province whereas the management of elite school systems are reluctant to abide by the orders of the Supreme Court (SC), claiming that General Certificate of Education (GCE) falls under the college category.
The SC had ordered private schools to cut their fees by 20 per cent and return 50 per cent of the amount they received during the summer vacations. The order was applicable to private schools across the country, which charged tuition fees of more than Rs5,000.
However, Pakistan Today learnt that while not abiding by the apex court’s orders, non-refundable security deposits were also being charged by upscale educational institutions in case a student left the school without completing the academic year.
Moreover, it is necessary for an A-Level student to complete both AI and AII to be eligible for a security refund while the schools are demanding a one-month notice prior to seeking withdrawal from the institute.
It was learnt by this scribe that amid the exorbitant fees, parents had been left dealing with sheer stress because of “miscellaneous charges” being demanded by elite schools of the city as well.
The father of an A-Level student, Hashim Khan, while talking to Pakistan Today said that the fee structure at schools varied from campus to campus and was related to the size, facilities and location of the campus, which was not justified.
“If I am living in Johar Town, it is understood that I would prefer sending my child to the Johar Town campus instead of any other branch, but this elite school mafia is now driving us crazy as we are left with no other option and have to pay whatever they demand.”
He said that they were unable to meet the demands of the school and it seemed as if they had no right to afford better education for their children. “I wonder for whom these schools have been opened if we cannot afford them. If we argue with the management, we are told to take our children to public schools,” he lamented.
“I have to pay almost Rs40,000 to Rs45,000 as the A Level fee of each of my daughters, which rounds up to around Rs100,000 every month,” said a middle-class single mother, Afia Azeem.
“Along with this fee, I have to bear the expenses of a home-tutor, transportation or fuel expenses, books and extracurricular activities,” she said and added that another problem was the unprofessionalism of certain teachers.
The father of a student of A Levels at Lahore Grammar School (LGS) Phase V, on the condition of anonymity, said that most of the times additional charges worth Rs3,000 to 4,000 were added to the Rs38,000 fee challan.
“This school mafia is torturing the parents and the basic right to education is being snatched away from many. We are already under the burden of inflation and increased taxes, which is being added to by raised school fees,” he said.
Another mother, seeking anonymity, showed the fee challan of American Lycetuff and informed this scribe that the Gulberg branch of the private school had issued the bill wherein the quarter fee of summer vacations 2019 had been taken in advance.
“It is nonrefundable and if we fail to pay it within 5 days, our child will not be allowed to attend the classes. I request the government to please improve the standards of government schools so that middle-class parents can afford cheaper and quality education for our children.”
Further, Pakistan Today learnt that there were a number of parents who were being victimised by the management of elite schools in the provincial capital but feared that their children might be harassed if they raise their voice, as it has been witnessed within the past couple of days.
It was further learnt that when some parents started a movement against the fee hike at private schools, their children were struck off the school’s rolls.
Speaking to this scribe, Punjab Minister for School Education Dr Murad Raas said that institutions offering A-Level fell under the school category and they would have to reduce their tuition fees.
“We have already declared February 12 as the deadline, after which we will cancel the registration of any schools that do not obey the court and the government’s orders,” he said.