After reversal of the private school fee issue in Islamabad High Court in August this year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has once again asked all private schools’ owners to appear before the court on October 4. Supreme Court has clubbed together all cases of fee hike which will be heard from October 4. In August this year, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) allowed private schools of the federal capital to collect summer vacation fees from students. The decision was no less than a disappointment for thousands of parents, however, recently the Sindh High Court has stopped private schools from increasing more than 5 percent of the school fees.While the Supreme Court is working to provide justice to students and parents who are charged a high fee by the private schools in the name of quality education, the private schools’ owners show their arrogance to parents whenever parents consult them on such matters. Private schools often have support within the government and thus mostly decisions are passed in their favour. For instance, the establishment of Private School Regulatory Authorities has yielded no result but it continues to cater to a select few from the upper class, providing them with employment opportunities and more. However, the upcoming hearing in the Supreme Court will be a challenge for Private Schools to convince the court of reasons for continuing their monopolistic attitude and charging unreasonable fees.In reality, public sector schools have more qualified teachers than private schools. In public schools, teachers usually have a Master’s degree. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab, during the last five years, more than 90,000 teachers have been recruited through transparent and independent testing systems such as NTS. Public schools, however, lack facilities and need a behavioural change from teachers, they need to treat kids with love and care. One positive step in this direction would be the induction of female teachers at primary levels. KP initiated this process in 2017. The modus operandi of private schools is to decorate their school buildings, display artistic work made by their teachers and appoint a few coordinators who can fluently speak English. While teachers at the back-end remain BA qualified, or even with lower qualifications.Despite the private schools’ fees being challenged in courts from Karachi to Peshawar this year; the school Mafia still found ways to increase their fees. The start of the new term in September included tax slabs in fee vouchers. Advance tax slabs are applied when the annual amount of fee exceeds Rs. 200,000. Furthermore, not only do the schools increase the fees, but also add hefty taxes to get in FBR’s good books. Many private schools in Islamabad use 15 to 20 fee slabs, which in addition to being charged with the fixed fee parents have to pay extra charges for lab charges, IT charges and for other activities. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab, during the last five years, more than 90,000 teachers have been recruited through transparent and independent testing systems such as NTS. Public schools, however, lack facilities and need a behavioural change from teachersThere are a number of schools who use the World Wide Fund (WWF) to ‘encourage’ parents to let their children be included in green school activities by paying Rs. 1000. Owners of such schools have been appointed as board members of WWF to raise millions from unsuspecting parents. These extra charges are added to the fee bills without the consent of the parents. WWF as an international NGO has no mandate to collect funds from parents without their consent. There should be a thorough investigation of where the collected funds are spent by these NGOs.Similarly, if private schools develop a learning management software (LMS) – most of which are freely available online, they charge parents in thousands. RMS school in Islamabad developed a similar software a month ago and resultantly added extra dues ranging from RS 1000 to 2000, to the fee bill.Moreover, private schools found a new way to exploit parents after the Army Public School tragedy, by adding a security budget to the already obscenely high fee bill. They shamelessly cashed in on the tragedy by having the same number of guards as before but only added a few CCTVs to assuage the parents. And in addition to this, the schools charge exorbitant amounts for a delay in the payment of the fee.Therefore, we need a regulatory body to look out for the interests of the parents and hold these schools accountable. They need to be scrutinized and called out, so they know that they are not more powerful than the state.The writer is a media and communications professional. He can be contacted at Twitter: zia051Published in Daily Times, September 21st 2018.