Elite schools may be offered govt land in remote areas

Saturday, August 23, 2008
By Khalid Khattak (NEWS)

THE government in order to encourage elite private schools to establish campuses in remote areas is considering various proposals including provision of land on lease to such schools.

It is learnt that the Punjab Schools Education Department recently held meetings with the representatives of some elite private schools on the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif.

Sources privy to the development said that Schools Education Secretary Nadeem Ashraf recently held a meeting with representatives of Beaconhouse Schools System, Lahore Grammar School (LGS) and The City School. The meeting deliberated on various proposals such as provision of land on lease besides exempting schools from various kinds of taxes. They said that private schools might open franchises in remote areas on the pattern of Beaconhouse School System operating across the country.

The sources said the government might link registration of new braches of elite schools to opening schools in remote areas of the province.

Shahbaz Sharif at a recently-held ceremony said that the government was working on a new policy on private schools and only those schools would be registered that agree to establish their branches in remote areas of the province. He had also said that these schools would also reserve 10 seats for the children of poor people.

An official seeking anonymity said that most of the elite private schools were limited to big cities only. The official said the government wanted these schools to play their role in promotion of quality education through extension of their network to tehsil level. He said the government wanted to encourage private sector as it had a vital role in promotion of education. He said the government, however, did not want private schools to merely commercialise education.

He said the government by offering land lease and tax exemptions wanted to motivate elite private schools to offer affordable education in remote areas.

The sources said the proposals were not ready and a summary would be sent to the chief minister for final approval after thorough deliberation on them.

When contacted, Secretary Schools Department Nadeem Ashraf said that land lease and tax exemptions were some of the proposals under consideration to encourage elite private schools to reach small towns of the province. He said the department wanted private schools to offer scholarships to needy students and to reserve 10 to 15 percent seats for students who could not afford to pay for their education.

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