Parents agitate for rational school fees outside premier’s residence

LAHORE:27 October: Hundreds of parents on Saturday gathered outside Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence in Zaman Park to protest against the Punjab government and the private schools for not implementing orders of the Supreme Court on the fee issue. Members of parent associations protested against what they said unfair calculation of fees by the District Regulatory Authority (DRA). They had held placards and banners inscribed with slogans. They said they were holding protest outside the residence of the prime minister to remind him of his electoral pledges regarding the education reforms and draw his attention towards this important issue. Pakistan Education Movement leader Sajeel Usmani said the government was unable to implement the order of the Supreme Court about fee calculation. He said the private schools mafia and government had joined hands and the parents were forced to take to the street. DRA says action will be taken against any school found guilty of violation Yasir Qureshi expressed his concern over the fee calculation criterion and said the fee structure declared in these letters were higher than it was paid by the parents in January 2019. He said the record should be verified by professionals through paid challans and made available on website for the general public. Parents Association president Atif Rahman said the ‘DRA group’ was working against the interests of the parents. He said they would continue to protest against the school education authorities until recovery of additional fees from the private schools. The parents demanded that the government implement the Punjab Private Act 2014 and 2016 and said they did not know why the government was not enforcing the act despite its approval. They demanded that verified audit reports of private schools should be made public and the nexus of government and private schools exposed. District Education Authority Chief Executive Officer Pervaiz Akhtar told Dawn that the DRA had resolved the fee structure issue of the private schools. He said it had checked 250 private schools. He said the parents had been asked to check and calculate their vouchers and if they found any problem in the fees, they could report to them and action would be taken against the schools. He said they had given seven days to the parents to submit their recommendations about the fees and report any problem to the DRA. He said they would submit the calculated fee recommendations in court in the next hearing and the issue would be resolved once and for all.Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2019

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