by Aruba Adil
KARACHI: Parents gathered outside the Karachi Press Club to stage a protest against exorbitant fees of private schools on Wednesday.
The protesters held banners denouncing the price hikes. Some held satirical cartoons which bemoaned the huge profits privates schools were minting. They chanted slogans like ‘Bhatta Khori nahi chalegi, Private schools ki gunda gardi nhe chalegi’.
Interestingly, these parents belonged to upper-middle class families. Their children studied at the Foundation Public School, the Beaconhouse School System and the City School.
Parents at the protest said that education should not become the sole purpose of earning profits. This social duty should not be turned into business ventures.
A protestor, Ayesha Ahsan said that parents were doing two jobs a day to cover their children’s education expenses. She said she paid Rs30,000 for two months for her child who attended primary school.
Many parents demanded that private schools should be regulated by the government.
He added that the law states that every year schools may increase their fee by five percent. “Parents protesting here state that fees have been increased by 40 to 50 percent.”
Another concerned parent, Raza Iqbal mentioned that the Beaconhouse School System increased their fee from Rs12,000 to Rs18,000 when his child was promoted from class eight to class nine.
A parent from the Foundation Public School said she paid Rs20000, every month for her daughter who studies in class eight. She said that when she went to the school management to complaint about the exorbitant fee they were charging she was asked to chuck her child out of school.
Initially, this wave of protest started from Islamabad when parents took to the streets to stage a protest on the fee hike. The same protest was held in Lahore until the Punjab Government took notice of the issue.
The Punjab Government directed Private schools to return the increased fees to parents.
The overall cost of secondary education in private schools—the preferred choice of parents– constitutes 58.6% of the income of an average Pakistani parent. The average per capita GDP is Rs150,000 with total educational expenditure of a household on one child up to 88,000 per year. This shows that educating a child takes more than half of an average person’s income in Pakistan, according to a survey conducted by Alif Ailaan.
In the mid 1980s during Zia era’s denationalization of schools began. This gave birth to the private sector in education which started off with doing a service to the state but ended up becoming a no-holds barred monster.