LAHORE: The Punjab government has directed the private educational institutions to withdraw raise in tuition fee. The government issued directives either to refund the amount charged from students within seven days or adjust to the next payable fee. The government also announced operation in the province on Monday (tomorrow) for implementing the decision on freezing fee at 2014-15 position.

Three teams have been set up for Lahore, two for each of the big districts and one for the smaller ones. The Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Ordinance 2015 promulgated on Saturday imposed some new restrictions on the private educational institutions.

As per the Ordinance, private educational institutions are required to get registered with the Registration Authority. For institutions not registered, the in-charge will apply for the same within 45 days and the Registering Authority will decide the case within 60 days after filing of the application. However, the institutions can continue to function till the decision of the application.

The private educational institutions cannot increase tuition fee without prior approval from the Registering Authority. In case there is a reasonable justification for appropriate increase in the fee, the institution should apply to the Registering Authority at least three months prior to the start of next academic year. The Registering Authority will fix the maximum fee to be charged by an institution or a category of institutions from the students.

The admission fee or the security shall not exceed the amount equal to the tuition fee for a month.

The fee includes admission fee, tuition fee, security, laboratory fee, library fee or any other fee or amount charged by an institution from a student. The institution cannot force parents to purchase textbooks, uniform or other material from a particular shop or provider.

Any persons aggrieved by a final order of the Registering Authority, can file an appeal to the Commissioner of the division within 30 days. The Commissioner will decide the appeal within 30 days which will be final.

The Registering Authority after providing reasonable opportunity of defense can impose administrative penalty up to Rs20,000 per day to the institution for violation of the Ordinance. If the violation continues for over 30 days, the Registering Authority, in addition to any other action or penalty, shall file a complaint against the institution in the court of magistrate. The court can impose fine from Rs2,00,000 to Rs2 million. If the institution is being run without registration, the owner will be liable to punishment of fine from Rs3,00,00 to Rs4 million. The Registering Authority cannot impose penalty or fine without giving an opportunity of hearing.

All Pakistan Private Schools Federation has rejected the Ordinance, saying the new restrictions were contrary to the spirit of the constitution and violation of basic rights. President APPSF Mirza Kashif Ali said that the new restrictions and crackdown was enmity with education and a conspiracy against private institutions.

“Undue interference of administration for reducing fee is injustice. Providing education is constitutional responsibility of the government. Private institutions are helping the government in providing education. Government should stop using force against private schools. We are ready to bring fee to the position of last year if government gives relief like tax exemption,” Mirza Kashif Ali said.