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Peira asks CIE to issue statements of entry, results online.

Byline: Kashif Abbasi

ISLAMABAD -- The Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) has asked Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) to issue statements of entry (SoEs) and exam results online to prevent students from being exploited by private schools charging fees to issue these documents.

In a letter dated May 3, Peira told CIA: 'It has come to notice of authority that various unregistered private schools, affiliated with CIE at O and A level are in the habit of holding SoEs and results of CIE of their O and A level students on various unlawful pretexts including charging fees in advance even up to four months for the duration for which students have no connections with these school.'

The letter said that this action by schools that are not registered with Peira but affiliated with CIE bars O and A Level students from obtaining statements of entry if their parents cannot afford to pay these fees, thereby preventing them from sitting their exams.

A letter dated May 3 alleged schools were illegally demanding advance fees before issuing students statements of entry so they could sit their exams

Addressed to CIE Chief Executive Christine Ozden, the letter added: 'It is requested to personally look into the matter on priority basis and direct concerned authorities of CIE and British Council in Pakistan to make arrangements for provision of SoEs as well as results of O and A Level students directly to students/parents through online mechanism/courier service to avoid further inconvenience. This facilitation mechanism is already in vogue in our Pakistani examination boards since years.'

The letter said that all private schools have been directed to immediately release statements of entry to students who have paid their fees up to April 2019, in spite of the fact that students completed their classes in March and paid the full fees for CIE, as well as commission and administrative charges schools collected in CIE's name for conducting the exams.

'This act of unregistered but affiliated private schools on behalf of CIE and British Council is causing unrest among students/parents in Pakistan,' the letter said.

Peira and upscale private schools, which offer O and A Level programmes, have been at loggerheads since the authority told schools not to force parents to pay advance fees for four months, up to August, as students are sitting their exams in April and May and have no remaining link to their schools until August.

Sources in Peira said that last month, the authority was assisted by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration in facilitating patients to obtain statements of entry from schools.

A senior officer from the district government said: 'At Peira's request, we deputed our magistrate to help parents get statements of entry.'

Before this, the authority and private schools remained at odds over exorbitant fees charged by the schools. In December last year, the Supreme Court also ordered private schools to cut fees by 20pc and refund half of the summer fees they had received last year.

Hamid Khan, a parent and one of the petitioners in the cases against private school fees, praised Peira for approaching CIE.

'Private schools withhold statements of entry and demand fees in an illegal way. CIE should look into the matter and the statements of entry should be sent directly to parents. CIE should also upload results and statements on its website,' he said, adding that other provincial regulatory bodies should follow Peira's initiative.

'Since Peira is supposed to regulate Islamabad-based schools, I would request provincial bodies as well to contact CIE to help parents,' he said.

Mr Khan asked why, if the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education could place roll number slips on its website to help students, the far more advanced CIE hesitant to share statements of entry on its website.

Peira Chairman Imtiaz Qureshi confirmed that a letter has been sent to CIE, saying: 'Yes, we have written to CIE on May 3 over the issue of statements of entry and results.'

Private School Association representative Abdul Waheed argued that private schools are justified in demanding fees until August.

'The academic year ends in August, so how can we survive if we charge fees up to March from O and A Level students,' he asked, adding that private schools and Peira are already in court over regular fees and 'Peira is now making an issue of statements of entry just to pressurise us'.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:May 6, 2019
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