Parents and teachers of the twin cities have expressed their dismay at the private schools’ decision to collect three months’ fee despite the fact that in June they (parents) faced extra financial burden due to Eid shopping. Most private schools in the city continue to collect tuition fee for summer vacation (June-August) from students in advance in violation of a relevant directive issued by the education department as well. During a survey by Pakistan Observer, parents of many private school students complained that they were forced to pay the tuition fee. Some of them said they had received a circular before the start of the vacation asking them to ensure payment of June fee along with the fee for the months of July and August.
Strangely enough, such circulars have been issued also by the management of those schools which hired teachers on a meager salary and that too, on a contract/daily wage basis with the condition that they would have to submit an affidavit promising not to demand the salary for the months of June and July.
Asked about the aggrieved parents’ complaint, a senior official of the FDE said private educational institutions didn’t fall under their domain however, their regulatory body PEIRA works in close coordination with FDE and matter can be taken up with it.
On the other hand, most private schools argued that the vacation fee was charged because they have to pay the June and July salaries of their teachers and other staff. However, it has become a practice by private schools’ managements not to pay the June and July salaries to teachers and the condition is generally set in their appointment letters, which are issued in two parts — one mentioning April to May and the other August to March as the period of their service.
A majority of students’ parents are from the salaried class and feel overburdened when asked to pay double the school fee and van charges twice in the first quarter of the year.
According to an aggrieved parent, many principals and owners of private schools are allegedly either not listening to parents’ genuine complaints in this regard or threatening them of cancelling their child’s school enrolment if they refused to obey their illegal orders.
It may be mentioned here that in 2015, the Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi, had restrained the owners of private schools from collecting fee during summer vacations. The court had also directed the Punjab government and education department to take action under the law against the educational institutions for collecting summer vacations fee in advance. However, the government is taking no action against the violators. Parents protested against the private schools and demanded the LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah to take notice of the violation of the court orders.
The owners and management of the private schools are minting collective fee for summer vacation in advance forcefully, violating the LHC orders that had barred the private schools from collecting it in one installment. Besides, many other parents say that the management of private schools has been daringly defying court orders and collecting fee of two to three months in advance.