A bill on private schools which would prohibit them from raising tuition fees of pupils unless previously agreed with parents is to be sent to the House plenum to vote, it was announced on Wednesday.
The bill is one of two, the other is on private institutes, that had been under discussion at the House education committee.
“They include suggestions concerning tuition fees of private schools but also on private institutes that do not have yet the necessary permits as regards building requirements,” said committee head, Disy’s Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis.
As regards tuition fees, Hadjiyiannis said that the bill obliges private schools to agree with the parents of a pupil tuition fees for the full seven years of study. Any fee increases throughout that period must be agreed with the parent in advance.
At the moment, private schools need to submit to the education ministry for approval any increases in tuition fees each year, at least three months before the start of the new school year.
But not all political parties agree with the new provision.
Akel deputy, Andros Kafkalias, said it would essentially give private schools the right to raise their fees without any permission from the education ministry.
Michalis Giorgallas of the Solidarity Movement said that the committee revised the provision submitted by the education ministry stipulating that the minister had to approve raises in tuition fees and introduced another one which would aid transparency.
“Any raises will not have to be approved by the ministry, but private schools will still have to inform in detail the education ministry of their intention to increase tuition and these must be announced so that parents know the tuition costs at any private school,” Giorgallas said.
“Parents, […] will agree and sign with the private school the overall tuition for the entire period of schooling of their child. The bilateral contracts will not be affected by any raises,” he said.
As regards private institutes, Hadjiyiannis said that they have included a provision for a 36-month transitional period to give time to owners of these schools to acquire all the necessary documents as regards building requirements so that they can continue operating.
This provision concerns those private institutes that do not have their operation permit but who have submitted the necessary documents to the various state services to get building and safety permits.
He also said that a registry for private institutes will be created “to put in order in this state of anarchy that prevails.”
Of the around 700 private institutes, Hadjiyiannis said, 400 “are non-existent, better yet, while they exist, they are not registered anywhere”.
“There is a mess, there is tax evasion, there is a lack of control, of transparency. We attempt, with this bill, to tidy up things,” Hadjiyiannis said.