Expensive schooling

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While the government is busy in making claims about bringing in a uniform education system and hedging those by saying the seminaries shall remain independent of any external influence, the apex court grapples with the subject of exorbitant hike in tuition fee and other expenses by the private schools. The case has been going on for many months now as the private schools are reluctant to adhere to the court’s advice. The chief justice of Pakistan admonishing those private schools requiring more than five per cent annual increase in fees said they should surrender their licences and look elsewhere for profits.

The court also rues the fact that the private schools are more concerned with churning money than the welfare of their students. There are schools which are unwilling to comply with the prior Supreme Court judgement on decreases in tuition fee.

While provision of education and regulating the educational institutes is the domain of the state, the court in order to ensure fundamental rights to the citizens has taken this case up. Earlier, the debate on sky-rocketing school fees started on social media and then chief justice, Saqib Nisar not only spoke out against the institutions acting as money-making corporations but also issued orders to make them stick to a certain formula for any raise in the fee.

The private schools have their own point of view as their counsel told the court on Tuesday that private schools, unlike the government-run schools, keep themselves abreast of the latest trends in education and invest in the training of their teachers. They also are of the view that court is not the right forum to address this issue.

To be fair to them, these schools are forced to operate in a competitive environment whereby they have to survive despite increases in prices of goods and services, increases in building rent and increases in increment incentives to retain human resources.

Two million out-of-school children already pose a challenge to any prospects of a better future.  More than these are in the religious seminaries that the state thinks do not get contemporary education. The government schools already are in deplorable condition.  The private schools albeit expensive are the only place most parents wish to send their children to. A way out is an effective regulatory body that is constituted in consultation with private school bodies. Once this is dealt with, the bigger issue of streamlining the syllabi should be the next on the to-do list. There too, a forum built with consensus may help smooth out the differences which, no doubt, are going to be aplenty.