ISLAMABAD-Islamabad: Speakers on Monday expressed concerns over possible compromise on quality of education by educational institutions after 20 percent cut in their tuition fees.

The speakers including educationists, lawyers and members of the civil society participated in an event titled ‘Our Educational Needs’ organised by Islamabad Educational Forum.

They said that under the Constitution, the state is responsible to provide free and quality education to children; however, each successive government failed to accomplish this task, they said.

Representative of a private school said that around 55% of tuition-fee income went into staff salaries, adding that while a significant reduction in school revenue would force them to rationalise staff salaries, which would have a direct impact on the quality of teaching and learning in schools.

He explained that private schools were the largest employers of women in the private sector in Pakistan while these women supplemented family income, while many were single mothers and dependent on their own income.

Other speakers suggested that government should ensure that children are equipped with an education that would enable them to face challenges of life, instead of intervening in the businesses of private people where the parents are satisfied with the existing fees.

They said that the parents never intended to compromise on quality of education for the sake of lesser fees. 

The speakers also agreed that the schools should ensure that the students are clear enough on concepts that they do not require evening tutoring, and educational institutions should also provide opportunities for both mental and physical growth.

Former president of Islamabad District Bar Association Riasat Ali Azad said that under article 25-A of the Constitution, it is right of every child to get free education but, he added, 25 million children still remain without getting education.

“Other than out of school children, enormous number of the children are getting education in private sector” he said.

“The parents choose private educational institutions for their children for the best quality education”, he said.

An educationist Dr Akbar Yazdani said that private and public schools work across the world. However, they both provide similar standard and quality of education, he explained, and said that the scenario in our country is much different as our people preferred education in private sector institutions deeming  that government institutions could not offer the excellent standard of education they required for their children.

“It was private sector which played a pivotal role in increasing literacy level in the country”, he said, recalling that as per official figures, the Sindh government spent Rs1,000 billion on education in 5 years but it could not make a significant change in ever increasing illiteracy ratio in the province.

He claimed that estimated 35 million children were getting education in private educational instructions, which is a big question mark on the performance of government schools.

A teacher Abu Zar recalled that teachers remained as marginalised for long time but growth of private schools increased competition within this profession and ultimately the organisations were compelled to better pays to the teachers.

He said that if any school demands highly qualified teachers, then they have no other option but to pay reasonable salaries while if they fail, they have to compromise on quality of education.