We all owe the current literacy rate in Pakistan to the private sector educational institutions that have helped boost the generally abysmal graph of education in Pakistan. This is a service they have been doing since the independence. The paucity of government contribution for this cause can be judged by the condition of ghost schools, or the so-called govt-run educational institutions. They have simply failed in delivering quality education to the masses despite successive govt contributing large funds to them. The governments have made no effort to make things easy for the private educational institutions though. Instead, it often creates unnecessary obstructions in the way of quality education. The recent issue of 'half-fee concession raised by certain quarters of the govt of Pakhtoonkhwah is one such attempt. In an order issued to the private schools, the provincial govt has demanded that educational institutions should charge only half the fee from one sibling in case two children of the same parents are studying in the same school. For promulgation of this order, the government has dug out from archives a dead piece of document known as The Government of India Act 1935. This is height of foolishness that government should make use of an archaic law to arm-twist a sector that is making so crucial a contribution to a cause government itself can do nothing about. By threatening to cancel registration of all private educational institutions that fail to honour this order, the government is actually imposing a new tax on education. The order of half-fee concession, in my view, is unjustified because The Government of India Act 1935 that is being employed to enforce it is by no means a legal document. It consists of executive orders, circulars, memoranda, and directives passed during the years 1930-40. They were never adopted or protected under any legislative act before or after independence. Then, this 'Act, if it could at all be referred to as an Act, is legally not enforceable since government (of Pakistan) has already promulgated more than half a dozen education policies. Third, this 'Act is not binding upon the private educational institutions because by their definition as a private business, they are independent and autonomous in their financial and budgetary matters. And the government does not give them any financial support despite allocating 2.1% GDP and 2.5% of provincial budget to public sector education. Nor does it give them any relief in tax. It does not even exempt their buses from road tokens and other transport taxes. The private educational institutions pay all taxes including a very heavy property tax and make Social Security contributions and EOBI contributions. Moreover, they pay 60% of their staff salaries from tuition fees. If they start giving 'half-fee concessions to every sibling, the entire edifice of their business would come crumbling down. -BADAR UL ISLAM, Islamabad, June 30.