Cutting Private School Fees Will Only Bring More Problems

In October last year, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, ordered private schools to cut their fees by 20%.

Responses to the move ranged from appreciative for how the CJP was safeguarding the rights of helpless parents to the inevitable “when is he going to clear the backlog of millions of cases?”.

When the forced fee cut was announced, I was skeptical. Private schools are a highly profitable industry and time and again, they’ve demonstrated their preference to run like cut-throat businesses, with the focus being on maximizing profit instead of lofty goals like imparting a good education. Parents these days are paying more than what I was charged for university (less than 5 years ago) and even then, there are constant complaints about the quality of education.

So when the CJP announced his decision, I knew that the chances of a 20% cut to profitability being absorbed by the schools themselves were laughably low. And based on reports from multiple private schools, that is indeed the case.

While private schools have cut their fee, they’ve also fired staff and teachers to reduce costs. Many have delayed annual increments and others have cut back on the facilities offered to both students and staff.

Parents have gotten relief, yes, but that’s come at the cost of the livelihoods and working condition of staff, not the bottom-line of schools. Before, Pakistani parents were being fleeced in the short term with higher fees. Now they are being made to suffer long term due to the cutback to school staff and facilities.

What’s infuriating is that this was quite expected. Yet, time and again, our government, our institutes and those in power resort to band-aid solutions with little to no thought about solving deeper issues.

The Need for Regulation of Private Schools

Despite the private school mafia whining about the 20% fee cut and how it has “impacted their bottom line”, the simple fact is that private schools are an incredibly lucrative business. The margins are staggeringly high and in the absence of any regulations and oversight to ensure the quality and facilities, they can basically charge what they want and do what they want. That needs to change.

Cutting fees should be just one part of a wider regulatory framework for private schools.

The first step is to actually register private schools and bring them under a single umbrella. Regulations for registration of private schools vary depending on districts and some, like Rawalpindi, don’t even have an authority to register and monitor private schools. As a result, tens of thousands of private schools across Pakistan are unregistered.

Once a singular authority has been established or appointed and all private schools have been brought under its ambit, work can begin on ensuring they provide affordable quality education.

The first step for that is to fix the maximum profit percentage for schools. The capitalists among you are probably frothing at the mouth at that suggestion but I believe that education and healthcare are sectors where government intervention is not only welcome but mandatory.

Another thing the authority should focus on is standardizing the facilities offered by private schools. That means ensuring there are proper playgrounds and allotted time for physical activity, basic medical services for emergencies, a minimum ratio of teachers to students and so on.

Looking Towards the Future

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good short term solutions to the education crisis in the country. The attitude of billionaire school owners isn’t going to change and they’re going to fight regulation every step of the way. Until there is legitimate competition from public schools, people will be forced to send their children to private schools and put up with whatever demands are made of them.

Fixing public schools is a monumental task but it can’t be ignored. Alongside regulation for private schools to improve the situation in the short and medium term, the government should build the capacity of government schools so they can provide genuine competition and eliminate the monopoly of private schools on a “good education”.

  • Few questions:
    Why don’t government work out on their public schools? why not the accountability of Budget spent on public schools be inspected and why not the salaries and performance of Govt. teachers are inspected???
    Bring Govt schools to the better level and start healthy competition with Private schools.
    There are hundreds of schools offering private education starting from fee of Rs: 1000 to 30,000 or more. Whichever parents can afford take the child to that school.

    • This is a good point. However you have to take into account the rampant corruption in our government. Just look at PIA and how it has gone from a world-class airline to one of the worst in the business just over the span of 2 decades. So yes, government does set aside funding for public schools but government schools only see 1% of that funding.

      We need to root out corruption for our government education system to be effective.

    • Due to Ministry of Education Are Not Youngster : He Is Still Anoghota Chaap : (Jahil)

      If he didn’t want to take an action against all private school special in Sindh then No One care about it.
      It is the responsibilities of Educatin Minister Not Court Decided either what does Minister Work ?

      But At THE END CHAI PANI Lene K Bad Sare Case Clear Ho Jate hai

    • why should they show to you or to public?
      stop randomizing things just because everyone doing it.
      there’s 1000 to 5000 rs schools too and they are fine, now they are in problems because of this randomizing.
      have seen a school on 5000 yards proper building with a fee of 1000 closed few years back just because there parents were doing the same what a 15000 fee parents were doing.

    • U said right a financial audit is needed for all private as well as govt schools and on corruption must be hanged

  • Honestly speaking, by only reading the title of this post, I came to know that it would be from the same writer who was missing Mehran a few weeks ago & was also trying to prove that ufone was the real champion of Pakistan telecom industry in another write-up. And I was not wrong; it came from the same guy :D :D … Skipped the post without reading

    • so you focused on who is saying rather than what is being said ;p
      anyways something has to be done and regularization could be one of the options, just like HEC

      • he’s actually not wrong, i glanced and reading this line i skipped whole thing.
        “fixing maximum profit for a school”
        here school is a business and he wants to fix a profit for someone by someone else.. wah je.

        • Dude, that’s the whole point – it shouldn’t be a business. Pura parh to lia karo before commenting.

          • dude! that’s the main problem you guys think whatever you want instead of logic and proper thought.
            school is a business, saying it is not is the main issue.

            tum saab ne education ka mazak bana diya hey.
            institution that makes you insaan us ko galiaan detee ho, hangamee ker tee hoo, media per shoor kertee ho.

            baqee saab hazam ker letee ho.
            food gets expensive, hazam
            medicine gets expensive hazam
            shelter gets expensive hazam

            • I’m quite amused that you think what I’m talking about is fantasy and what you’re saying is logical.

              Schools SHOULDN’T be a business. If they are, they are going to end up being run like a business. And in a capitalistic system, you’re going to end up with stuff like charter schools in the US. That state HAS to intervene.

              Education and health are basic rights. If you outsource their provision and responsibility to private companies and individuals, it’s a lost cause. Because there’s a whole corpus of proof that these companies are going to pursue profit over all else.

              And please stop lumping us in with others. :)

              • amused?
                right, the most important thing is amazingly amuzing to you.

                forget about my logic, start thinking on who’s agenda are we going after our educational institutions.

                instead of going after govt based schools and hospital’s, you are going after privately run businesses.

                ap ke bachoon ko quran perhanee walaa bhee charge you fee.
                everything is a business, first understand that than try to fix things… everything can be fixed, first fix yourself.

                • “Oh my God! He wants affordable and quality education for children in Pakistan! He wants school owners to not get away with earning billions while teachers get peanuts! He wants private education to be regulated!”

                  Yep, very worrying agenda. You’re right to be concerned.

                  It’s quite clear you haven’t the article (because I talk about public schools as well) so I am not even going to bother responding any more.

                  • That is the saddest part i.e. a teacher’s monthly salary is lesser than that month’s fee of his/her disciple and that too after so much hard work and with continuous job threats.

    • Thank you for missing the point of literally everything. I would encourage you to come out of your filter bubble once in a while.

  • Two of my friends have already been laid off from the schools they were working cause of the fee drop. Beacon-house has fired all of the career counselling staff and A family member who’s a principle at a school as fired the debating and sports couch. yahhhhh

  • Expect more articles like these from propakistani. Really have become a fan of the author.

  • Expect more articles like these from propakistani. Really have become a fan of the author.

  • Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, steps into areas where he has no expertise. Jack of all trades fails at them all. Damages them all. He should keep to his own mandate, tasks and responsibilities where he indeed has some knowledge and experience.

  • Beacon house has already started firing their Staff, only because of the fee cut. They are also increasing the class strength each teacher used to manage. Previously one teacher had around 15 to 16 children to teach, now they will teach 33 children. Also they have started cost cutting by cutting out on daily expenses. BUT THE SAD THING IS THAT THE OWNERS AND MANAGING DIRECTORS WHO ARE EARNING MILLIONS MONTHLY, DONT GIVE A F***.
    So heres another eff up by the CJP/Gov where the real culprits are still at large but the normal citizens are suffering.

  • there is already a regulatory framework in place, private schools have ignored it for years, atleast in sindh the laws are in place for more than 10 years without proper implementation

    In a nutshell, its simple, the laws are already in place, the schools were aware of the laws when they get their licence from the regulating body & this 20% decision is the direct result of their repeated re-challenging of this law & various delay tactics

    Private schools also need to realize that even with the govt stipulated 5% increase annually, schools will remain just as profitable, on the other hands, schools which visibly drop their standards will just as quickly loose their market value and be replaced by another bunch of schools , why would i pay 15 to 20K or more per month for a school that dropped its standard , that same lower standard is available in under 5K schools.

    The laws also protect teachers salaries, unfortunately, there is no forum for teachers & the schools keep them silent by providing low cost education to teachers own kids

  • yaha kallar syedan mein asy b school ha jo teachers ko siraf 5000 sa 10000 k darmyan pay dety ha 10000 wo dety ha jo aik bchy sa 4500 tk feee wasoool kr rahe ha

  • Private schools are here to make money. They are not charity, Govt. is not paying them, they have to cover their expenses and than more for the Investors. Same applies to Doctors sitting in their Private or other institutional organizations. We may want them to work without making any money or money that we think they deserve, but that is not going to happen. CJP was not providing free legal aid to all his clients when he was practicing, or he is going to return all the Salary he has earned during last three decades, because he believes (and has the right to) that he deserved each and every Rupee he earned by his hard work. He should give the same option to other professionals also.

    Now, when our countrymen have the option to decide what should be paid to teachers (ustaad might sound better), teachers in Madrasah are the prime example of this, they work 24 x 7, and get somewhere between 5-7k per month. I have not seen a single person who would stand up for them and say how can you cover your expenses with this amount. And this is how much some of us spend to have a bit and Centaurus with few buddies.

    The author has made a very good point, fee reduction is only going to reduce the quality of education for these students, whose parents work hard to pay fees of these Private Schools. The ones who are making these decision usually have the option to afford ‘education abroad’.

  • Hi,

    Not all schools have reduced their fees to 20% discount. My kid’s school, Roots Intenational schools system has make joke of CJP order. How can they refuse SCP order?

    What they did is increase tutution fee to 18000 Rs. for this month after the CJP order as compared to 12000 for the previous month that I used to get in fee bill. On top of that they add information box that “School standard tution fee is 18000 Rs. with 20% discount as per SCP and remaining amount in furhter discount” and school fees is same as per last month.

    I think all concerned should share this information to SCP and must register this complaint in Citizen portal of Pakistan

  • My sympathies are with teachers and support staff who have either been fired, being fired or deprived of benefits such as annual increments (if they are lucky enough to duck job termination.)

    “PCO Baander (CJP) ke haath adrak aa gaya hai aur woh hakeem bun ke qaum ka suo-moto ilaaj ker raha hai”

  • close