MULTAN-The fee increase row has again surfaced in Multan just ahead of summer vacations as a big Multan-based group running a chain of schools and colleges has started fleecing students under different heads. The management of the school chain is hurling threats to parents to refrain from lodging complaints with the Education Department as they have “direct relations with the Education Minister.”

Education sources disclosed on Friday that the parents of some students lodged complaints with the Multan EDO (Education) office, stating that the students are being forced by Nishat School to pay extra-charges as Annual Fund, Paper Fund, Stationary and Computer charges.

Sources revealed that the department assigned Deputy District Education Officer Ahsan Fareed to investigate into the matter and submit a report. “The inquiry found the school guilty of violating Section 7-A of subsection (1) Private Institution (promotion and regulation) Amendment Ordinance 2015 and recommended action against it,” sources added.

The owner of the same school chain had been in headlines in September 2015 when his son subjected a boy to sexual assaults and made his inappropriate video clips. Police had registered a case against him and he was arrested along with five others on the charges of child abuse, sodomy and blackmailing.

Keeping in view upcoming summer vacations, the education department has already warned the schools to refrain from increasing fee or collecting three-month fee altogether. However, the schools have devised new strategies to charge the students.

However, the parents of the students including Sheikh Younus, Shahid Iqbal, Khush Bakht and others brought the fee issue into the knowledge of the education department.

It’s not just the violation of state laws the school administration is committing, the inquiry report revealed that they also threatened the inquiry officer and the complaining parents. “They (school admin) threatened the parents in the presence of the undersigned (the inquiry officer) to step down as they had direct relations with the education minister,” the report further disclosed.

Sources disclosed that the inquiry officer recommended to the competent authority to ask the school administration to refund or adjust all amounts charged from the students unlawfully in their next fees. The inquiry also recommended Rs10,000 per day fine on each branch of the school from September 19, 2015 till the date of compliance. 

Meanwhile, the Education Department has issued a warning letter (No-2790) to the group, hurling a warning to the school administration to stay careful in future in the charging of fees and other dues. “Refund/adjust extra charges received from all the students. Fee paid by them in March, 2014 for academic session 2014-15 is a baseline for refund/adjustment of overcharges as mentioned in Section 7-A of Promotion and Regulation Amendment Ordinance 2015,” the letter directed the school admin.

The letter also gave a seven day deadline to the school admin for the compliance. “A compliance report may be sent to this office within 7 days positively. In case of non-compliance, you will be held responsible for its consequences,” the letter further warned.