By Nasir R. Zaidi, President, Pakistan Academic Consortium
The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is no more a news as it has affected every segment of life globally. Likewise, Privately Managed Educational Institutions are also not an exception. In a developing economy like Pakistan, private sector institutions have played a pivotal role in increasing overall literacy rate, promoting access to quality education, fostering R & D, bringing down out-of-school children figures and ensuring provision of international learning avenues to children. According to UNICEF, Pakistan has the world’s second highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children not attending school.
As stated by Pakistan Education Statistics in given scenario from Pre-Primary to University level, there are more than 200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand) Privately Managed Educational Institutions out of which, more than 80% account for PRIVATE SCHOOLS. These institutions also strengthen the economy by providing employment to more than 2.5 million people including teaching, non-teaching and support staff.
Hon’ Prime Minister, as you have already announced relief package for Manufacturing Industry, Exporters, SMEs to sustain economic impact of COVID-19 outbreak, we would like to draw your attention towards announcement of RELIEF PACKAGE for private sector educational institutions across country. The primary domains where relief is sought include:
1. Relief in UTILITY BILLS such as Electricity, Gas, Telephone for period of March, April & May
2. Relief in payments and (or) provision of subsidy in Social Security, EOBI, Professional Tax, Property Tax
3. Voluntary extension for one year by Provincial / Federal Governments in period of Renewal of Registration & Recognition from Directorate of Education (DIRPIS), Boards of Secondary & Intermediate Education, Vocational Training & Technical Education Boards etc. for schools and colleges for current academic session i.e. 2020-21
4. Immediate provision of Soft Loans (with 0 % or Minimum Possible Markup) by banks for private sector educational institutions to manage expenditures like rents and salaries of teaching/non-teaching staff
Keeping in the view the services rendered by private sector institutions, we hereby request your Excellency to immediately announce relief package as per Charter of Demands, else we are afraid that large number of institutions may be on the verge of closure endangering academic career of hundreds and thousands of students, unemployment of teaching/non-teaching staff and irrecoverable loss of other stake holders.