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Court restrains four private schools from charging fee in violation of directions

Court restrains four private schools from charging fee in violation of directions

HYDERABAD: A division bench of Sindh High Court Hyderabad circuit here on Thursday restrained four private schools from charging fee in violation of a circular of April 2017.

The bench, comprising Justices Azizur Rehman and Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui, fixed the matter for May 29.

The bench directed the petitioner to file an amended title to cite the director general, directorate of inspection and registration of private institutions, education and literacy department, as one of the respondents in the petition.

The petition was filed by Abdul Khaliq, a member of All Sindh Parents Associa­tion (ASPA).

He said members of the association were paying educational fee of their children to the respondents without delay since the day of admission.

He said the fee for June and July was being collected and demanded from parents in advance and vouchers had been issued in April.

He said the respondents without any notice/intimation or meeting unilaterally framed a policy and parents were compelled to purchase school uniforms, books and other stationery from school on rates fixed by the respondents. Parents were not allowed to purchase those items from anywhere else.

Otherwise threats were issued that children would be expelled from the school, he added.

He stated that such policies under the garb of administrative matters were disturbing.

It was due to efforts and agitation of the petitioner organisation and struggle to fight for their rights that the secretary of the education and literacy department issued a circular on April 4, 2017 and directed all institutions/schools of Sindh, including the four respondent institutions, explaining a procedure of charging fee for June and July 2018.

He said that according to the circular, the secretary directed that students of class X pay fee for 2017-18 session till March 2018.

Students from class I to IX pay fee for June and July 2018 between January and May 2018 as per convenience of parents.

He added that the respondents’ demand after the above directives issued by the secretary was in violation of the Sindh Private Education Institutions (Regulations and Control) Ordinance 2001, Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation & Control) Ordinance 2003 and Sindh Private Educational institutions (Regulation & Control) Ordinance 2005.

He said that it was crystal clear in Section 6 of 2001 ordinance that fee structure be fixed with the approval of the government.

He said that no approval was sought by the respondents before such unilateral increase and the private respondents were making demands as a tool to harass parents, who were members of the association.

He said that private respondents obtained handsome amount from time to time in the name of field trips and extracurricular activities which petitioners paid for the better future of their children and for which no approval had ever been sought from the chief secretary of Sindh, secretary education and directorate of school education (Hyderabad region).

He said the respondent schools not only charged fee for June and July in advance, but also encouraged transporters to charge fee for summer vacations. During vacations, it was against the norms of justice to cover burden from parents’ pockets, but the respondents did not realise socio-economic situation of parents which further exposed their mala fide intention.

He said the respondents directed parents to buy school uniforms, stationery and syllabus from the shops suggested by schools or from the stalls arranged in schools.

He said it was gross violation of the rights of parents under the Constitution.

He said education as the fundamental right of every child was accepted under Article 25-A, making right to education free and compulsory for children of all ages from five to 16.

He prayed to the court to direct the competent authorities to take punitive action against the respondent schools as per provision of the relevant ordinances.

He also said the court should declare charging of fee for summer as well as winter vacations as illegal.

He said the respondents should be restrained from charging any tuition fee.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2018

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