Private schools charging Rs8,000 or more asked to reduce fee by 20pc

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Zubair Qureshi

Following public outcry over private schools’ charging of complete fee even during closure of schools during the days of Covid-19 for over a year and even more, the district administration has decided to direct all the private schools of the federal capital to reduce monthly fee by 20 pc.

However, according to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration, this ‘fee reduction’ formula will apply only to those schools which have been charging Rs8,000 or more monthly fee.

All those schools that are charging less than Rs8,000 monthly fee are exempted from the order.

According to a notification issued by the ICT administration, the decision was taken to provide relief to parents as the third wave of the novel coronavirus continues to grapple the country. Schools in the capital have been closed earlier this year.

Education institutions across the country were closed in April after coronavirus metrics rose. Cambridge, Intermediate and Matriculation exams have been cancelled as well.

Parents of a number of students enrolled at different private schools had launched a campaign on social and mainstream media for fee reduction claiming their children were not going to schools yet they were being forced to pay complete fee and in case they missed fee payment even for a month, their schools sent them notices warning that their children’s names might be struck off for delay in payment.

“We had approached the Education Minister, Islamabad’s district administration and all the other relevant quarters as we didn’t see any logic behind payment of fee despite the fact our children were sitting at home doing nothing,” said Asma, a mother of a private school student.

However, no one listened to these poor parents until they launched a campaign on social media winning people’s support from all over the country.

While talking to Pakistan Observer, one of the members of the Private Schools Association of Islamabad said the ICT had issued the notification under duress and “we would move an appeal in the ICT as well as the High Court against this unjust decision.”

He said the private schools had to pay salaries to their staff, electricity bills and rent of the buildings. Under these circumstances, it would not be possible to reduce fee drastically to 20 percent

Our educational institutions (private) were closed across the country in late February 2020 and since then we are facing a number of hardships as most of the students had already stopped paying monthly dues.

When we opened schools in phases starting September 15, 2020, again we were directed to close on November 26, 2020, due to the second wave of coronavirus cases hit the country.

Classes were taken online till December 24, 2020, and winter vacations started from December 25, 2020, and were supposed to last till January 10, however, the NCOC decided that schools would reopen in phases with classes 9to 12 being the first to reopen on January 18 but that too could not be materialized.