ISLAMABAD: An enquiry conducted by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has found an online educational institute acting, prima facie, in violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act 2010 for allegedly spreading false information.
According to a statement issued by the CCP on Friday, it took notice of certain claims that the educational institute, having dozens of branches across Pakistan, was giving advertisements in newspapers and posting claims on their website in violation of Section 10 of the Act.
The three major claims that called for the CCP attention were: teachers can earn Rs 80,000 to Rs 250,000 per month, an education programme worth Rs 3.75 billion is endorsed by the Cambridge Global and that there are eminent educationists and technologists on our board of directors.
Taking notice under Section 37 (1), the CCP conducted the enquiry to see whether these claims violated Section 10. Regarding the first claim, the enquiry stated that the institute in its newspaper advertisement announced a special package under which teachers could earn Rs 80,000 to Rs 250,000 per month, with a disclaimer published on the bottom left corner of the advertisement, stating: “Terms and conditions apply, for details, visit website.” The enquiry found that the disclaimer was not quite clear and noticeable to readers. The terms and conditions were not available on the website to provide full disclosure of material information that might be required by a potential consumer for taking a well-informed decision, whereas the respondent also failed to substantiate the claim through evidence that teachers could earn Rs 80,000 to 250,000 per month.
Regarding the second claim, the enquiry found that the Cambridge Global was a dormant company in the UK, thus the sole purpose of claiming collaboration with the Cambridge Global by it aimed at securing credibility for the programme based on falsehood. The enquiry termed the claim not only false but also misleading. Moreover, the project size of Rs 3.75 billion was also calculated in a misleading manner and was not supported by evidence.
The enquiry found the third claim of having eminent educationists and technologists on their board of directors to be misleading as it was not substantiated by facts. The enquiry concluded that the institute was, prima facie, violating Section 10 of the Act through the distribution of false information to the general public, especially to potential teachers. It was noted that the institute used marketing tactics to make profits through deceptive, false and misleading claims, particularly during the pandemic when schools were frequently closed and teaching staff was being laid off. Based on its findings, the enquiry recommended issuing a show-cause notice to it for violating the Act.