Private Education System – Money making machines

Thousands of private schools, coaching centers, tuition centers continue to swindle students and parents by charging excessive fee and pay inadequate salaries to faculty members. They go unchecked as the mechanism provided under the rules for the inspection of schools and colleges is not properly followed by the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur.

Although the law under “Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Rules-2005” visualizes constitution of an Inspection Committee comprising at least three members – one each from the provincial education department, education group of offices of district government and civil society – it is not being put into practice in the letter and spirit for the reasons best known to the authorities.

In short, this business is a free-for-all; some tutors earn as much as one to one and a half million per month and pay no income tax on that amount. An effective strategy that tuition/coaching centres have adopted to enhance their popularity is branding. Similarly, cities are flooded with well-known brands specialising in various science subjects and a number of professional qualifying examinations.

There are three registration authorities for private educational institutions, according to a notification issued by Sindh Education department since 2006. The education secretary is the registration authority for higher secondary schools/colleges/degree-awarding institutions having academic linkage/foreign collaborations/affiliation with any other institutions of higher learning and teachers training.

It is obligatory upon the registration authority to constitute inspection committees for carrying out detailed inspection of educational institutions at the time of their registration or renewal of the registration certificate. After inspection, the committees are required to recommend a fee structure of the respective school to the registration authority for approval.

Unfortunately, this obligatory requirement is hardly ever carried out or remains on paper only as in most cases such formalities are fulfilled by the officials of the registration authority themselves by using their `flexible` powers.

The most common violations of this law entitled “Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Rules-2005” are related to the fee structure, salaries of faculty members, and check and balance of the schools/colleges and private institutions in the streets, the sources point out.

Similarly, another issue that parents are facing is continuing upward trend in fees on bi-annual or quarterly basis has worried the parents that how they would meet the education expenditures of their children.

“No doubt parents strive to give better education to their children but increasing fees and other related expenses are increasing unabated,” Muhammad Sharif Memon a small business, deplored.

The parents said providing education to their children had put huge financial pressure on them.

In short, this business is a free-for-all, that some tutors earn as much as one to one and half million per month and pay no income tax on that amount. An effective strategy that tuition/coaching centres have adopted to enhance their popularity is branding. Similarly, cities are flooded with well-known brands specialising in various science subjects and a number of professional qualifying examinations.

An occupation once regarded as an activity to augment income has now become the main income-generating vocation. Tuition centres are a product of parents’ increasing obsession with improving their children’s academic grades.

The massive increase in the number of coaching centres follows the basic principle of demand and supply. However, no credible data about the number of coaching/tuition centres or their breakdown by location is available, making it difficult to regulate this sector.

In the past there have been reports of the involvement of private coaching centres in organised cheating across the country where the centres charged heavy fees to promote cheating by leaking examination papers before the examinations.

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