By Hamid Khan Wazir
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: As the world grapples with the deadly Coronavirus, the private educational institutes are busy in minting money, as they have increased tuition fee to further burden the parents amid the suspension of all educational activities due to the countrywide lockdown.
As panic of Coronavirus infection is gripping the world day by day, the global death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic crossed 276,253.
The novel Coronavirus has infected more than 4,009,291 people around the world out of them, over 2,302,365 are currently being treated and more than 48,699 among them are in serious or critical condition.
The deadly virus also wrought havoc in Pakistan, as a number of confirmed cases soared to 27033, while the death toll reached 611 across the Country.
In such alarming situation, when the country is hit hard by the deadly virus and the businesses have been badly affected due to lockdown, the private educational increased 5 percent in school tuition fees which is quite unfortunate, said a father of a child who is studying in a private school in Bhara Kahu.
The Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) on April 8, 2002 issued notification and directed all private educational institutes under the domain of the federal government to reduce the tuition fee by 20 percent received during holidays as a financial relief to the parents/guardians) due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the said concession policy is not applicable to PEls charging monthly fee less than Rs. 5000.
The parent termed the government’s 20 percent fee deduction an elites-driven move, as only the well-do-to would benefit of the decision because those paying less than Rs. 5000 would not be entitled to benefit of the move.
Talking to this scribe the irate parents were of the view that the government should have announced the decision across the board to facilitate all and sundry as those could afford paying more than Rs. 5000 fees are all well offs.
However, they said that irony is that the educational institutes started charging 5 percent additional fee from those paying less than Rs. 5000 to further insult to their injuries.
“I got a call from the school and asked me to visit and pay your son two months fees. When I visited the school to deposit the fee I caught by utter shock when they asked me 5 percent additional fee,” said Javid Abbasi, a father of a student.
“I asked the reason of the fee raise amid the suspension of all educational activities and the government’s clear directives of 20 percent fee cut, the fee collector replied that the fee concession is only for those who are paying more than Rs. 5000 and the 5 percent increase was made under the set formula of annual fee raise,” he said.
The visibly angry Abbasi said that he asked the management if they could not give them 20 percent concession, the 5 percent annual fee increase should be deferred, but they plainly refused.
Kashif Kiyani, whose son is studying in private school, narrated his ordeal and said that he was not only asked to pay 5 percent extra tuition fee but also advised to get a booklet for his son’s summer preparation which cost him Rs. 200.
He said that when he asked from the admin as they are being charged but how their children would be taught, he replied that teachers’ lectures would be shared in whatsApp group.
Parents demanded of the government to direct the private schools to withdraw the fee increase if they could not give them concession amid the suspension of all educational activities.
However, the expressed disappointment that the PEIRA is unlikely to force the private schools to withdraw the increase because the authority is so helpless that even it could not implement its decision of 20 percent fee deduction, as parents could be seen complaining of receiving full fee by the management.
Taking notice of the non-compliance of fee deduction, the authority issued notice to school management on May 6 after receiving complaint from Pakistan Citizen’s Portal and directed to strictly comply with decision of the authority.
It was also directed to resolve the said matter and submit compliance report along with documentary evidence in three days.
However, PEIRA in its notification mentioned no warning in case of non-compliance of its directives, which shows the non-seriousness and helplessness of the authority in implementation of its own orders.