LAHORE - In the absence of regulatory mechanism, English medium schools in Punjab are charging heavy fee ranging from Rs 8000 to 20,000 a month for various levels, closing doors of what they say ‘quality education’ on the middle and poor classes.

The minimum fee being charged from a student is even more than one-month salary of an unskilled worker, which has been fixed at Rs 1000 by the Punjab government. Besides tuition fee, these schools also charge heavy amount in the name of admission fee, security fee, building maintenance and transport fee etc.

The Punjab government, which is claiming to take all possible measures to promote education, is unable to answer the question on to how poor parents can fulfill their dream to send their children in schools providing comparatively quality education to students. 

Another question arises that in the absence of equal opportunities for education how the children of poor families could compete with the privileged.

According to data collected by this scribe, the Lahore Grammar School (LGS) charges about Rs 70,000 at the time of admission in nursery class under the heads of admission fee, security fee, registration fee, library fee, building maintenance fee and others. While tuition fee has been fixed at Rs 13,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 for class one to five, six to eight and O-Level respectively.

Likewise; Beaconhouse School System is charging approximately Rs 8,000, Rs 8,500 and 10,000 per month for the same categories of classes other than admission fee security fee which is Rs 16,000 and Rs 16,000 respectively.

Another leading school, Lahore Lyceum, is charging Rs 6,000 for the classes one to five, Rs 6,700 for the classes six to eight and Rs 7,250 for O-level with the admission, registration and security fee amounting Rs 21,600. The City School charges more than Rs 50,000 at the time of admission while its monthly fee is 9775 for primary section, Rs 10500 for middle section and Rs 16,000 for Matriculation or O level section. American Lycetuff, another leading private school is charging Rs 3,500 per month as tuition fees for Play Group to KG II. Apart from this, the school management is also charging other fees under the heads of admission fee, security deposit, registration fee etc ranging from Rs 500 to 10,000.  Some of these schools hire untrained teachers at low salaries. Resultantly, the parents have to arrange tutors at home for their children who are assigned a lot of home work. As far as the public sector is concerned, only arrangement to provide good education facilities to the poor class is Daanish School System, but every one cannot send children there because of its criteria of admission and limited number of institutions. Furthermore, the government has only six Daanish schools that are definitely unable to cater all the children who even meet their criteria.

At present, six Danish Schools are functional in two districts of Southern Punjab i.e. Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan.

Regarding the admission criteria The Daanish School Act says “the governing body of a Daanish School shall admit the destitute, most deprived and marginalized students if the total combined gross income of the members of the household of a the student does not exceed six thousand rupees per month and the student, in order of precedence, falls in either of the following sub-categories: he is orphan having no guardian, his both parents are illiterate; the parents do not own an immoveable property and either of them is disabled, the parents do not own any immovable property and do not have any fixed job or source of income etc.

 EDO Education Lahore Pervaiz Akhtar said according the Punjab Private Education Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Ordinance, 1984, amended up to July 2006, the department was not mandated to decide the fee structure of the schools.  However, he said if any complainant came to them against any private school, they address the complaint.

An official of school education department requesting anonymity told TheNation that establishment of Regulatory Authority to run the private educational sector was under process and government was working on this. Although this scribe made repeated attempts, Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood did not respond.