Principal Aitchison College asked to waive off fees by governor Punjab, resigns

The principal of Aitchison College, Michael Thomson announced his resignation in a letter to staff and board members, stating that the Punjab Governor Baligh ur Rehman’s ‘biased actions undermined the school’s governance and management’.

Thomson’s decision came after the wife of Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Establishment Ahad Cheema, asked for her two son’s school fees to be waived off for three years. She sent Governor Punjab Baligh ur Rehman the request. Following her request, the governor issued an order after which their fees was waived off for three years. But Principal Thomson refused to do so.

Thomson said the decision taken by the governor to ‘extend a favour’ to Ahad Cheema’s family violates the policy of the school.

The letter said that “politics and nepotism have no place in the schools”. He added further, “this is not how I planned to leave Atchison, but I will share with you that a continuation of very poor governance has left me no other choice.” He said that some “prejudiced actions by Governor House have contributed to a breakdown of governance and management, under which I had to finally draw a line.”

In his letter to the members of the management committee, Principal Thomson laid out that paying a tuition fee for a guaranteed place comes under college policy. The policy is applicable for long leave to a maximum of three years leave. He stressed that this request by Mr. and Mrs. Cheema is a “wrong perpetrated on a large scale to suit a smaller outcome.” He closed the letter by saying that he refuses to abide by the order and has informed Syed Babar Ali who is the chairman of the Management Committee. He asserted that he will not play any role in management and admissions after April 1.

Ahad Cheema’s wife who is a senior bureaucrat as per media reports, had applied to the Governor of Punjab for fee waiver and so at the request of the Governor of Punjab, the fee for three year for Ahad Cheema’s children was waived.

Federal Information Minister Atta Tarar said that Ahad Cheema’s children have not been studying in Aitchison College for three years, so his wife applied for fee waiver according to the rules, which was approved by the Governor of Punjab, according to the law. He declared that the issue is being misrepresented.

Governor Punjab Baligh ur Rehman has rejected the claims of the principal. He said that Ahad Cheema was posted in Islamabad for a year due to his job and Ahad Cheema’s children were not able to go to Aitchison. He emphasised that it was requested to waive the fee for the classes which these children had not taken.

On the issue of resignation of the principal of Aitchison College, the governor of Punjab said that the resignation of the principal was already to become effective in August 2024. The principal of Aitchison College was receiving a salary of Rs. 40 lakhs and the audit of receiving this hefty amount has been started.

The governor claimed that Principal of Aitchison College used to take more than 100 holidays in a year and he ‘adopted this tactic to avoid a probe’.

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