Reporting by Irfanul Haq
Private schools in Sindh were restrained from increasing their tuition fees until the government comes up with a new policy, a court ruled Monday.
Last year, more than 200 parents approached the Sindh High Court (SHC) against what they said was an unprecedented and unaffordable increase in tuition fees of schools. Four schools, Beaconhouse School System, Foundation Public School, Headstart School and The City School, were respondents in the case.
The SHC ordered the government to come up with a new policy to regulate school fees. Until then, private schools in Sindh cannot increase their fees.
A notification of the provincial government allowed schools to increase their fees by 5%. The court ruled this notification is null and void. However, it added, the notification will be effective for 90 days, during which the government will devise a new policy.
During the hearing, parents said schools were delaying the release of fee vouchers. “How do we pay the fees without having the vouchers?” they asked. According to them, the managements are purposely delaying the release of vouchers as they want to charge an additional amount for late submission.
The court restrained school managements from increasing tuition fees and charging late fees surcharge.
On January 19, the court was informed that the Beaconhouse management was not issuing fees challans to students whose parents had approached the court. Some students’ admissions were reportedly cancelled over non-payment of fees.
That day, the court restrained the Beaconhouse management from demanding tuition fees increase at a rate greater than the government-approved 5%. It ordered them to issue examination forms of the Cambridge International Examinations to students within two days and to restore the admission of a student, Taha Muneeb, which was cancelled over non-payment of an additional fee.
The Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Ordinances of 2003 and 2015 permits an increase of not more than an annual 5% increase in school fees. The petitioners said the school managements have increased the fees by 10% to 12%, which is a violation of the law, as well as the notification issued by the education department wherein only a 5% increase had been prescribed by the government.
(Correction: The story has been corrected to mention that the court order applies to all the private schools in Sindh and not just the four schools that were respondents in the case. The error is regretted.)
Writing by Minerwa Tahir