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Scores of private schools resume classes in defiance of govt directives

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Scores of private schools resume classes in defiance of govt directives
PESHAWAR:20 August: A number of private schools in the provincial capital and elsewhere in the province resumed studies in defiance of the government’s directives.

Parents of the students seeking School Leaving Certificates (SLCs) have been complaining that the schools were forcing them to pay all the dues for the new academic session despite the fact that the new session has not yet started. The private schools claim that they were collecting dues before issuance of SLCs as per the Private Schools Regulatory Authority’s notification.

The authority has rejected the claim as baseless, saying that no such notification has been issued.

A number of parents contacted The News and said that classes of their wards for the new academic session are yet to start. But the previous schools where their kids were studying were demanding them to pay full fee – in some cases along with transport – before getting school leaving certificates.

Some of the schools even claim that they parents won’t be able to admit their wards in other schools before clearing the fees. Aqeel Razzaq, president of Hub of Private Schools (HOPE), told The News that they were collecting fees for all the months during which academic activities remained suspended due to Covid-19 and new session could not be started. This, he said, they were doing in accordance with the PSRA notification.

He claimed that PSRA has clearly notified that the parents seeking school leaving certificates would have to deposit fees until the month in which they want the SLCs. He further claimed that according to another notification of PSRA, no school would be allowed to admit a child without having SLC from his previous school. “If the school does so, it would be sealed,” he said, while referring to an unfounded notification of PSRA.

This correspondent searched such notifications on PSRA website and its Facebook page but failed to find them. Spokesman for PSRA, Kiramat, confirmed that no such notification had been issued. “If a school owner speaks about any such notification, ask him to show it,” he suggested.

He, however, said that parents should pay fees for holidays in accordance with the high court decisions.

The parents on the other hand argue that the current ones were not routine vacations. The schools were closed due to a calamity that had affected everyone equally, they say.

And the schools were closed at such a point that the students had completed their academic session and a new session had not yet been started. “When my son has not taken even a single class for the new session and I want to change his school, why do they charge me?” said Alif Khan.

He said that he has shifted his family to another district from his native one in connection with his job. The schools in his native districts were not issuing certificates to his children and they want him to deposit fees for the months during which education activities remained suspended, he said.

“When we ask the schools for justification, they say they have been directed by the PSRA to do so. I wonder whether PSRA has been made for regulating the private schools or collection of fee for them,” said Zahid Khan, another parent.

He said that he had applied for the SLC in March but it could not be issued to him due to schools’ closure.

For fee collection, they refer to unfounded notifications, but when it comes to following government directives, they defy them. The government has announced that all the educational institutions across the country would be (tentatively) reopened for academic activities from September 15, but the private schools made the announcement that they would go one month ahead of the government and reopen their schools from August 15 as they were no longer able to bear the financial losses they had been suffering.

The government too played a clever trick by notifying schools’ reopening for administration and staff from August 6. But the private schools were more interested in resuming classes as this was the only way that would enable them to collect fees.

“Some 80 percent schools have reopened in the province. Warnings have been issued to some schools in the provincial capital. A few private schools were sealed in Bannu and Charsadda,” Aqeel Razzaq said.

The PSRA spokesman said that no doubt schools remained open but for administrative purpose, not academic activities. “Strict directives have been issued to district administrations to seal all the schools that have resumed classes,” he said.The news.
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