ISLAMABAD-Non-appointment of the permanent head of Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) has irked parents as they fear the private schools will likely increase their fee in the absence of the regulatory body head, The Nation learned on Saturday.  Parents of the children enrolled in private schools of the city from a joint forum have urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) in a letter to consider the parents pray for appointment of a permanent head.  Parents and the association of private schools are in a long legal battle on the fee hike in the institutions and the Supreme Court (SC) in the previous month had formed a committee to set a formula for the fee structuring in schools.  The letter available with The Nation said that the SC committee had to present its findings in the court within two weeks but, the ministry of federal education and professional training repatriated the PEIRA head during this, who was the key stake holder in all this process.

The parents’ forum called the repatriation of the PEIRA head on the important stage as malafide intent of the some powerful stakeholders who do not want to regulate the fee structure in their schools.  The letter said, “It may be recalled that on 16th October 2018, the honorable SC had been pleased to form a committee under the auspicious of Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan to address the issues relating to school fee levels, quality, enforcement and other complaints before the court. The committee was directed to hold its first meeting of 22nd October 2018 and to present its findings within two weeks Hasnat Quershi was nominated as a member of this auspicious committee. Removing a key stakeholder, especially the one who is guiding the honorable court on the matter of how to regulate private schools, summarily from this important committee at this juncture shows the malafide intent behind this hasty decision with the only objective to frustrate the court directive and to cause further delays in finalizing this critical issue”. Hasnat Qureshi was holding acting charge of the chairman PEIRA and Director General (DG) Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) as well.

The government however, in the previous month repatriated him to his home department and since then both education regulating departments are headless. The letter also stated that parents are protesting on the streets and are running from pillar to post to get their voice heard against the uncontrolled hike in fee, teaching of unregulated curriculum by inexperience teachers in private school.  “Parents are in a constant state of shock and panic on the exorbitant fee increases by the schools which are going beyond affordability. This increase is forcing some of the parents to discontinue the education of their children,” the letter said.

Parents in the letter said that the hasty decision of the exit of sixth ad-hoc chairman PEIRA comes as no surprise to the aggrieved parents of private schools whose regulated by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) PEIRA and the latest twist in the ongoing saga of how the powerful mafia is bent on circumventing every rule in the play book to get favorable outcome to keep private schools out of the government regulatory oversight. PEIRA was established ten years ago, the sixth ad-hoc chairman PEIRA has been removed and to this date no chairman was able to complete his tenure appointment as chairman.  The protracted delays in appointment of chairman/ member points to malafide intent of not letting the authority function, as there is no other plausible explanation, said the letter. The acting charge of chairman PEIRA has been given to member Imtiaz Qureshi till a regular appointment is made.  Around 2,000 private schools are established in the federal capital out which 1200 are registered institutions and above 350,000 students are enrolled in private schools of the federal capital. 

The Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood in his maiden visit to PEIRA had expressed concerns on the fee hike in private schools. The PEIRA officials had informed the minister that the matter was in court and PEIRA would form a policy after the matter is decided in the court. The minister directed the PEIRA to provide relief to students and parents in forming any policy.