KARACHI:The education sector has been hard hit by the pandemic. The fate of students hung in balance as the government and educational institutes grappled with the new normal. On March 17, the Sindh Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institutions suspended the registration of The Lyceum School citing violations of Supreme Court orders and failure to comply with directives issued in light of the pandemic.
Though the studies of the current students are unlikely to be affected by this decision as the department’s director-general Dr Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui told The Express Tribune that the current session would be permitted to continue and the school has the option of resolving the matter with the Sindh School Education and Literacy Department secretary, prospective students remain in limbo.
“I still haven’t given a thought [to] which school I will go [to] now because we have already paid a hefty amount in the name of registration fee,” said W* who enrolled at The Lyceum School for the batch of August 2021.
W, who is completing her O Levels and has applied to different high schools and got admitted to both the top A Levels schools in Karachi – Nixor College and The Lyceum. Given the latter’s well-structured system and its discipline, she chose it over Nixor.
“We know that the studying environment and [the] pressure is different in Lyceum, and [a] majority of students graduating from here join Ivy league universities. I aim for the same,” said W, who is a Harvard hopeful.
However, a week after Dr Siddiqui notified the suspension of Lyceum’s registration, prospective and incoming students find their queries to the school unanswered. The school has yet to reach out to them or to respond to their concerns regarding their future at the school.
“We have paid over Rs150,000 for registration and the fee is somewhere around Rs45,000,” she shared, adding that while she felt the school was the best option for her combination of subjects. The suspension of its registration has left her and her parents perplexed. “I might start looking for other options. Might join Nixor if nothing concrete comes up or these issues aren’t resolved by month’s end.”
Another student, H* who has yet to enroll at Lyceum, said he was lucky that he had not joined the school when the news of its suspension broke. “I will now join Nixor as I am not sure how long this will go on and it can take a toll on my studies, which is why I will not take a chance.”
All the prospective or incoming students The Express Tribune spoke to were independently aware of the private institutions directorate’s notification.
According to the directorate’s notification, the school has not followed directives mandated by the coronavirus – it did not give students a 20 per cent fee relaxation from April to September 2020. Besides, it charges a registration fee that amounts to more than the total of three months’ tuition fee, and the school failed to implement the mandatory – under Article 13 of the Sindh Private Institutions (Regulation & Control) Rules 2005 – policy of providing 100 per cent scholarship to 10 per cent of the students enrolled with it.
The school’s registration has been suspended under Article 8 of the 2005 rules for violating the above directives and several others, according to the notification.
All private schools operating in the province come under the directorate and after a long drawn out battle between the schools and parents, the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgement in 2019 that bound all private schools to certain rules – the foremost of which is that the schools cannot increase the annual fees by more than 5 per cent.
According to Dr Siddiqui, the school has acted in violation of this order of the apex court. However, he said, speaking to The Express Tribune that the directorate has not restricted any ongoing educational activity in the school.
“The current session is permitted to be completed and there is room for improvement at the school’s end as well.”
The Lyceum can always go to the relevant secretary and assure the department that it will comply with all the mandated rules in due time and the notification pertaining to its suspension will be reverted, said Dr Siddiqui.
He maintained that the directorate calculates the annual fees and the five per cent hike permitted by the top court and notifies the schools accordingly. But, he said, the Lyceum has been stubborn in this case and does not adhere to the rules. “Their lawyer does not even reply to our letters.”
The DG further told that the directorate will be sending similar notifications to 37 other schools, which are in violation of the apex court’s orders.
Seconding Dr Siddiqui’s claims, another official from the directorate said that the March 17 notification was issued after seven letters, three show cause notices and several meetings came to no avail. He added that Lyceum was also in violation of rules pertaining to teachers’ salaries.
Two students currently studying at the school told The Express Tribune that the school did reimburse the fees that they had paid for the Cambridge Assessment International Education examinations but did not facilitate students with the 20 per cent fee deduction directed by the provincial education department during the pandemic. They also stated that the school was not implementing the rule of giving complete scholarships to 10 per cent to its student body.
Prospective students perplexed as The Lyceum School’s registration suspended ‘over violation of court orders’