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Private schools cash in on academic session issue

Karachi, March 10, 2008: A number of private schools have arbitrarily increased monthly tuition fee from February though tuition fee can only be raised at the start of an academic session for which a prior permission from the authorities concerned is prerequisite.

The next academic session in schools will start from August 1 in Sindh, but several private schools took undue advantage of the recent confusion over the change in academic calendar and started charging enhanced tuition fee from February. These schools have also issued raised fee bills to their students for the two months of summer vacation i.e. June and July.

A controversy over the academic calendar started shortly after the caretaker provincial minister for education announced that keeping in view the wishes of parents and teachers the next academic session might be rescheduled. It was stated that after consultation with all the stakeholders the government might decide to start the next academic session from April 1 instead of August 1. The confusion prevailed for about two months until the caretaker federal education minister categorically stated that any decision about the start of academic session would be taken by the elected government.

However, some private schools, which had reportedly got permission for an increase in tuition fee from the next academic session, took an undue advantage of the controversy by charging enhanced fee from students from February.

Mohammad Arsalan of the Friends Social Organistion, a non-governmental organisation which bears education expenses of children from the poor families, said that a private school located in Soldier Bazaar area had increased tuition fee twice in the current academic year though under the rules a private school could only raise it once in an academic year.

He pointed out that it was mandatory upon private schools to have a certain quota of free scholarships for the poor and deserving students. But, there was hardly any private school meeting the requirement by offering free education or even a concession in tuition fee to the poor and deserving students. He complained that he had brought the issue to the notice of the authorities concerned but no action had been taken against such schools so far.

It is not only the arbitrary raise in monthly tuition fee but also the demand of two months' fee in advance by private schools that has perturbed the parents of school-goers.

"It is beyond our comprehension that when the offices of private schools remain open during summer vacations why they cannot accept the tuition fees of June and July from their students in the same months," a parent remarked, adding that the education department and private schools' management should realize how the parents having two or three school-going children can afford to pay two months tuition fee of their wards at once.

Parents of school-goers urge the education department to direct private schools to permit students to pay their tuition fees of summer vacation in June and July. Dawn
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