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Unjust, unlawful school fee

April 2008: The recent threat by private schools to hold back admit cards of matric students who have not paid their July fee is nothing new. It happens every year without fail. Also without any element of novelty is the condemnation of this blatant exploitation by the authorities and their threat to cancel the registration of errant schools. How empty these warnings are and how insincere the authorities are in dealing with the matter can be seen by the mere fact that the helpline number announced through a report in this newspaper by the Sindh Education Department's Directorate of Private Schools remains constantly unattended, except for a recorded voice that is not much of a help. The official, who called the action of the schools both 'unjust' and 'unlawful', also advised the parents to approach a committee in case their complaint was not entertained on the phone. How would one get hold of an official in person of a department which finds it impossible to depute someone to attend to phone calls is something that begs an answer.

There is obviously an unholy nexus between private schools and their regulators to fleece the masses. This is mid-April and the matriculation exams are already underway. What justification is there for the schools to charge fees for June and July from students whose term has virtually ended? The regulatory body has also termed illegal the annual charges that private schools levy with impunity, and no different is the case of the hefty admission fee. Though the fee charged against summer vacations does have official sanction, should this be done cumulatively and now when it is easy to coerce parents by withholding school exams entrance cards? Besides there is enough strength in the longstanding public demand for a 50 per cent reduction because almost all private schools are known to shed a majority of their staff at the end of each academic year to avoid paying salaries to them during vacations. Dawn
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