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Private schools’ fees and Supreme Court decision

By Farman Ajab
It is an appreciable decision made by Supreme Court of Pakistan on Dec 13, 2018, regarding fee for private schools in Pakistan. It is a great relief given by Supreme Court to the people of Pakistan particularly those whose children are receiving education in private schools. It is the first time in the history of Pakistan that the Supreme Court has ordered to maintain the fee structure in private schools. Before that each private school used to fix its fee as it liked and increased its fee according to its own wishes.
Although I am not law knowing person but am sure that the decision of the Supreme Court will be applicable to all private schools in Pakistan, including Aga Khan Schools in Chitral, Karachi and Diamond Jubilee Schools in Gilgit-Baltistan run under the Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan. These Schools are controlled by chief executive officer and his management sitting in Karachi. Honestly speaking there are two types of private schools in Pakistan: those that are made for business and are receiving exorbitant monthly tuition fee. They fulfil all the school expenditure and staff salaries from this fee and those that are made for the welfare of the people and do not receive any kind of fee. They are imparting free education. These types of schools are mostly seminaries. They run only from donations. By keeping the above two types of schools in mind when we think about the schools run under the Aga Khan Education Service, we see they come neither in the first category nor in the second.
Taking advantage from this occasion, I would like to bring the following facts about the existing position of these schools in the notice of the Supreme Court in order to get further relief.
The AKES is an international organization run under the leadership of Prince Karim Aga Khan who believes in brotherhood and considers service to mankind is his foremost duty. He demands the same values from all the employees working in his institutions. To fulfil his mission, His Highness has established various service providing agencies all over the world for the benefit of human beings. In the same spirit, a welfare organization namely Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan (AKES) has been working for a long time and is involved in imparting education in the backward areas of the country like Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.
His Highness provides a huge amount in terms of grants to Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan every year which are used for the monthly salaries of all the employees, including teaching staff. This grant is also used to meet various expenses such as fuel, repair work etc. Besides the grant, a huge amount being received as donations from donors for various educational activities. In this connection, I may refer to the 21 million Euros taken from European Commission in 2003. Free lands for school buildings have been taken from the local community. Labour cost and local material also provided by local community in the construction of the schools. The European Commission has provided grants in order to build school buildings. Furniture and other items have been provided by local donors. Besides these, a hug amount being received as monthly tuition fee. For example, the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School Chitral is currently charging Rs5,340 tuition fee  and Rs 150 ICT fee per month from  each class 10 student. It receives an ancillary fee equal to one month’s tuition fee once in every year.  Admission fee about Rs22,000 consists of one month’s tuition fee, ancillary fee equal to one month’s tuition fee and security fee is deposited at the time of admission. In case of delay of monthly tuition fee, a fine of Rs 100 per month is received by the school management.
The AKES is registered with the government of Pakistan under section 42 of Companies Ordinance 1984. By keeping these points in mind, I am justified in saying that the AKES is a charitable organization and the AKESP management itself admits the AKES is basically not a profit earning organization. On the basis of this, the government has exempted the AKES from all kinds of taxes. But as a charitable organization the AKES is receiving huge amount as tuition fee which is against the charter of a welfare organization. Being a charitable and welfare organization and having such facilities from all the sides, the management of AKES does not deserve to claim such huge amount as tuition fee.

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