Private schools oppose government regulation
* Investors to be given incentive packages: education ministry
By Irfan Ghauri
ISLAMABAD: The government is facing stiff resistance in its bid to regulate the workings of private schools, sources in the Education ministry told Daily Times. Established private school chains with strong links to the government and the bureaucracy have resisted the establishment of regulatory bodies for schools in the federal capital, sources said.
The government had decided to establish regulatory bodies to keep a countrywide check on private schools. However, a summary of proposals for the regulatory body forwarded by the concerned department at the Ministry of Education (MoE) had been delayed and rejected thrice.
Private schools, presently without checks on their infrastructure, will be directly monitored by the MoE, if these bodies are established. Schools will then be bound to follow a code of ethics prescribed by the government, and will have to obtain government approval for their syllabi. Presently, the government has no control over private schools, colleges or universities. Although provincial governments have enacted ordinances to regulate these institutions, the lack of quality educational institutions in the public sector has encouraged the growth of private institutions in every corner of Pakistan.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) launched a grand operation against schools which had been established in residential areas, but had to halt the operation due to intervention from influential quarters. Several schools are still operating without government permission in the federal capital.
The private sector, on the other hand, claimed that it was playing a major role in increasing literacy, since the government could not possibly achieve its Education For All goals on its own. “We are not very happy about the formation of these regulatory bodies. We are striving very hard to maintain our standard of education while the government is merely trying to interfere with our work,” said an official at the regional headquarters of a well-known private school chain.
An official at the MoE said that these regulatory bodies were designed to bridge the gap between government and private educational institutions. All private schools and colleges will have to register themselves with these regulatory bodies.
The government will also announce lucrative packages to attract private sector investment in developing basic education in the country. Plots in residential schemes will be allotted to any private sector non-profit schools on subsidised rates with income tax rebates. Sources said that that schools currently operating on a wnon-profit basis, will also be exempt from various taxes. However, ministry officials said that these schemes could only be implemented if private educational institutions were regularised.