Protesting parents threaten to stop paying exorbitant school fees in KarachiArchive
KARACHI: The banners and stickers on car bumpers and windshields read ‘No fee till low fee’ and ‘Stop thinking of parents as ATMs’. And the desperate parents gathered outside the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday chanted similar slogans.
Unanimously they decided to stop paying exorbitant fees to the private schools where they sent their children to study. “We have no option but to send our children to private schools. Had the government schools been any good, we would have had that option at least but it is not like that,” said Masood Iqbal.
“What do I call this? A decent way for extortion. Is this the new face of bhatta mafia?” asked another parent, Faraz Ahmed, who is paying Rs22,000 each as school fee for his three children.
Javed Iqbal said that apart from the fee, he was paying for the school van fee and all kinds of things under an extra ‘miscellaneous charges’ section. “I delayed my third child’s admission until after Eid to save myself from the extra charges for two months,” he said.
Eraj Kashif said she was paying Rs50,000 for her son who studied in class IX. “He is too senior now for me to think of changing his school,” she said. “My son’s school has a different slab for each class.”
Ayesha Rizvi said she with other parents protested outside her children’s school at 7.30am every day. “No one there cares to even come out and speak to us,” she said.
Humayun Bin Rather, another protesting parent, said that the schools could raise the fee by 5pc but only if the government approved. “But there are no checks and balances here. Our hard-earned halal income is being turned into the haram they are making this way,” he said. When asked if they had approached the various private school associations, the father said: “But they are the beneficiaries in all this. Don’t you get it?”
Meanwhile, Sharaf-uz-Zaman, chairman of the All Private School Management Association, said that most of the parents seen protesting over the fees hike were parents of children who attended ‘Hi-fi schools’. “There are 21,000 private schools in Karachi and these parents calling us ‘private school mafia’ don’t even make 10 per cent of them. There are schools in Landhi, Malir, Safoora, Korangi, Orangi Town, etc, that have banners outside their schools offering admissions and free school bags with exempting two-month fees. The protesting parents live in big houses and luxury apartments not in 60- or 80-yard houses who pay Rs300 to 400 a month as school fees. For 37 years now I run schools that charge that little as fees and the education offered is on a par with the private schools of affluent neighbourhoods. So please don’t give a bad name to all private schools like this because all are not raising fees,” he said.
“There are only 8,500 registered private schools among the 21,000. The rest are unregistered. There was a time when the certificate issued to private schools also carried the fee structure but after 2003 it was removed. Now the fee for last year and the current year is written in file submitted to the Directorate of Private Institutions Sindh. I would advise to bring back the fee schedule on the certificate. That’s my solution to this problem taking care of the checks and balances.”
Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2015
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