ISLAMABAD - The Competition Commission of Pakistan has directed the private schools to provide relevant information regarding their fee structure, student strength, reasons for increasing fees and allied charges by 28th of September, failing which the Commission will proceed against them as per law.

The CCP had taken the notice of increasing school fees in August this year. The probe had been initiated after the general public raised concerns, especially parents, that private schools increase the fees exorbitantly every year without any justification, particularly without any corresponding increase in quality of education.

The CCP issued an order under Section 36 of the Competition Act, 2010 (the 'Act') to the CEOs and directors of private educational institutions for the provision of information required for assessing allegations of anti-competitive practices - such as unreasonable increase in school fees - against these schools.

Sources in the CCP informed The Nation that the CEOs and directors of private educational institutes that have been issued the order are those of the City School, Beaconhouse, Elementary Montessori School, Headstart School, Roots Millennium School, The Lahore ALMA, LACAS and Salamat School System.

They further said that Commission had received more than 1000 complaints from all over the country. Accordingly, over 100 schools in various parts of the country were asked to provide relevant information vis-à-vis their fee structure, student strength, reasons for increasing fees and allied charges etc. Although many institutions responded but others either did not or replied with incomplete and irrelevant information, despite repeated requests by the Commission.

As a result, it was deemed necessary to issue an order to such institutions under Section 36 of the Act. Section 36 empowers the Commission to issue a special or general order calling upon undertakings to furnish information that the Commission deems necessary or useful for discharging its functions as envisioned in the Act. Failure to provide the requisite information may make the CEOs and directors of these undertakings liable to strict penalties and other sanctions under Section 38 of the Act.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday directed the Ministry of Education and Capital Administration and Development (CAD) to implement the decision about not increasing school fee during 2015 in letter and spirit. He also directed authorities concerned to come up with a proposed legislation in order to regulate private schools and keep a check on their profiteering.

The Punjab government has also issued an ordinance that bars private schools from raising their fees during an academic year unless they justify the hike to a 'registering authority' three months in advance.