Complaints against unregistered NGOs, rising school fee, Majaida Rizvi’s presence is silver lining

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Salahudin Haider
There has been mounting complaints  against unregistered, mushroom  growth of NGOs, rising unrest against arbitrary rise of tuition fee by private schools, decision by Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi to form Consumer Resistance and demand formation of Court, is indeed a silver lining in the malaise afflicting the society with corruption and unethical practices. Since 2015, All Sindh Parents’ Association has been crying at the top of its voice against unregistered growth of private schools in almost every corners, every street, and every locality, and arbitrary rise in tuition fee ranging between Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 or more, but silence by  concerned authorities is indeed intriguing. Association’s General Secretary Hamood-ur-Rub Jaffry, petitioned the Sindh High Court in sheer frustration, and sought judgment that schools can not raise fee more than 5 % annually, finally came as a great relief to vast number of parents. But then the case has begun to take a new twist, as some kind of reviews are now under study, which has begun to cause unrest among parents, most of them with limited monthly budget, belonging to middle or lower middle classes. These parents held protest demonstrations on vantage points in Karachi, a city known to be heaven for poor and low grade salaried people, and where cost of living is much less compared to many other cities of the country. It remains to be seen as to what the Superior Court finally decides, but commercialization of education has been a curse, the cure for which needs to be found by those at the helm. Attempts by this scribe for comments from education board officials, drew a blank, and media, trying for remedies for ordinary families in the absence of government lack of focus on an issue of sensitive nature remains futile. Strange it may sound, but it is bitter fact that those in secondary or higher education boards, instead of being the regulators and ensuring relief to citizens, turn a deaf ear to complaints demanding urgent attention. First, these schools grow up like mushrooms, without even fulfilling the legal demands like registration etc, and instead show a shocking disrespect for law and legal values. What kind of education and training, such schools could be imparting to children, can be anybody’s guess. Not much dissimilar, worst in fact, is the situation with the NGO, most of who have neither sought the primary pre-requisite of NOCs from provincial social welfare department, nor have they secured registration from the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, which again is legal compulsion. Formation of these NGOs has become a fashion and easy mode to earn foreign funding. That does not mean that all NGOs are bad. Some of them are doing tremendous job or service to humanity, looking after kids’ education to spread literacy, and ensure welfare to poor patients in hospitals. But then are NGOs calling themselves as forum for health and environment, but can they answer as to how many hospitals have they visited, or how much have they contributed to improving the environment, in a city suffering from pollution, dirt and filth, and where diseases have been assuming epidemic form. Those running such NGOs should be held accountable to enquiry. The National Accountability Bureau, or the FIA, both powerful organizations, have been sitting idle, forgetting that their bounden duty to start investigations against all such organizations who are collecting money unethically through sale of corporate sector awards. Senior executives of private sector corporations and business houses, as well as those occupying important positions in government autonomous bodies, or commercial organizations, fall easy prey to such temptations of looking for such cheap awards which have no value in government and public eye. In the midst of all these, presence of former High Court Judge Majida Rizvi as chairperson of a consumer resistance organization is indeed a blessing in disguise. She last week held a press conference at the Press Club in Karachi to demand formation of Consumer Courts to protect the interest of poor and helpless consumers, who are easy victim to arbitrary rise of prices by companies selling consumer items. Her attempt to lead such a campaign is indeed worth praising, because consumer resistance alone can check arbitrary price rise, which is assuming horrendous proportions in Karachi, Lahore, and major cities of the country. But then notice should also be taken of those posing themselves as environmentalists and health care professionals. She must ask them question as to how could they speak on price rise for medicines, when their own performance can be subject to scrutiny. There had been organizations, acting as NGOs, whose founders or self styled leaders have been exploiting authorities to extract illegal and unethical benefits for their personal gains, rather than working for the citizens care.  All such organizations ought to present their accounts for proper audit, and public scrutiny. Majida Rizvi is a former judge of the High Court.  She must ensure that those indulging in unethical and illegal business do not sully her fair name. That is a malady that needs to be attended now.