Schools told to refund ‘overcharged’ fee or else…

LAHORE:01 september:Private schools accused of overcharging and raising fees without fulfilling legal obligations have been directed to refund the amounts or face the music. The District Education Authority (DEA), responsible for checks on schools, has told the schools to present their defence on a hearing which will be held after Eid. The sudden raise in fee by some private schools pushed parents to agitate against the move and call on the Punjab government to take action. Irked by fee spikes, parents set to stage protests The parents accused the institutes of raising fee and said it went against the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Ordinance 2017. The parents maintained that continuously rising fee was out of control and unjustified, making it unaffordable for parents. Talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday, Punjab School Education Department (SED) Secretary Dr Allah Baksh Malik said the provincial government held meetings with parents and private school managements over the issue. “We told private school managements and asked them not to raise fee beyond 5%. If anyone had increased fee beyond these set limits, they should immediately refund it. If any school is found guilty of the charges, legal action will be taken against them.” Meanwhile, the Lahore DEA has so far received complaints against 12 privately-run schools in the city and called them to a hearing. When contacted, DEA Lahore Education CEO Bashir Zahid Goraya said the authority sent notices to schools against whom parents had lodged complaints. He said that legally, 7-10 dates were required to hold hearings and gather explanation from overcharging schools. “Strict action will be taken against every school found overcharging or against any discrepancies He claimed that of the 12 schools against which complaints were received, most were of overcharging. However, some fell in other categories such as inadequate security arrangements. Goraya said notices sent to the schools were based on complaints received by the parents, while other charges were discrepancies found by DEA staff. He said action would be taken, if necessary, after the hearing. Teachers protest hits K-P school enrolment drive According to the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Ordinance 2017, private schools charging more than or equal to Rs4,000 per month could only raise fees at the start of an academic year by 5% and that to approval from the DEA. When the issue was raised, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a committee to look into the matter. The committee, headed by Punjab Additional Chief Secretary Shamail Ahmad Khawaja, held its first meeting on Monday and a detailed report would be submitted to the chief minister. Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2017.

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