New law will lead to closure of private schools, say owners
ISLAMABAD, Jan 29: The owners of private schools in the federal capital on Tuesday claimed that if the bill currently in parliament is passed into a law it would lead to closure of the institutions.
The Islamabad Capital Territory Educational Institutions (Regulation and Promotion) Bill 2007 has been approved by National Assembly on January 23 and is yet to sail through the Senate.
Members of the joint action committee of the private school and college associations at a news conference held at the National Press Club said if the bill became a law over 140,000 children would not be able to continue their education.
Arshad Mehmood, a member of the committee, said in 2006 an ordinance was promulgated to set up a regulatory authority for private schools but it lapsed after four months.
The current bill says that if a school is not registered, its owner can be imprisoned for up to one year and fined Rs5,000 daily. Facilities of laboratory, playground and security would be mandatory for the registration of an institution. However, these facilities cannot be provided by most of the schools running in residential buildings, he said.
Malik Abrar, president of the private school and college owners association, said there were around 1,200 private schools in Islamabad and 90 per cent of them had been charging Rs300 to Rs1,000 monthly fee. They cannot afford to hire a teacher at Rs15,000 monthly salary, he added.
“Capital Development Authority (CDA) sends us notices regarding illegal use of houses, EOBI asks us to register our employees with it and
Wapda directs us to convert out electricity meters into commercial,” he said.
He said the government should amend the bill and support the private educational institutions financially so that they can meet all the requirements.
Zafran Elahi, a member of the committee, said big private educational institutions charging Rs10,000 to 15,000 monthly fee from their students would not suffer because of the bill, but schools located in sectors inhabited by low middle class people and rural areas would not be able to meet the conditions of the bill.
“There should not be one yardstick for all the private schools and lawmakers should take input from all the stakeholders,” he said.
Mudassar Babar, Itrat Naqvi, Ubaidullah and other members of the association also spoke.
It is pertinent to mention that on March 16, 2012, the National Assembly standing committee on cabinet secretariat approved the draft of the bill and referred it to the National Assembly. The lower house approved the bill on January 23.
The bill could not be passed during the last about five years due to which educational institutions in the federal capital are being run through a regulatory authority which does not have the power to control the institutions because it was formed through a presidential ordinance rather than under the act of parliament.
The objectives of the draft law include registering and regulating private educational institutions to ensure that they followed a uniform policy that included seven points.
The seven points are: curriculum should be according to federal scheme of studies, same duration of academic session and holidays, same rate of fee being charged by the institutions, qualifications of teaching staff, their terms and conditions of service, including salaries.
Promotion of curricular and co-curricular activities on inter-institutional basis, achievement of uniformity of academic standards and assessment among the institutions and the capacity building of teachers are also the objectives of the bill.