Consensus reached: Schools in Punjab to open on Monday

194

LAHORE: The All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation announced that all the schools in Punjab will open from February 1 (tomorrow), after it reportedly reached a consensus with the government following a notification issued by the Punjab government to take back all FIRs registered against school administrations.

The announcement in this regard was made on Sunday evening following the hours-long deliberations between Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood and the members of All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation.

Mashood said all grievances of the private schools body had been addressed in the meeting, adding that cases registered against schools on the basis of inadequate security will be taken back. Later, a notification was also issued in this regard.

Read: Private schools ‘won’t open’ till govt owns security task.

Last week on Tuesday, the government had announced closure of all public and private schools in Punjab from Jan 26 to 31. While the EDO Education had told Dawn the decision came due to “extreme cold weather,” sources in the education department said the government was not satisfied with many schools for their poor security arrangements.

Two days later, as many as 12 school campuses were sealed in Lahore, while cases were registered against the administrations of 23 educational institutions for making inadequate arrangements for security of students.

After the terrorist attack on the Bacha Khan University, Charsadda, Punjab home department had directed the administrations of educational institutions all over the province to ensure security measures as per standard operating procedure (SOP).

The SOP makes it mandatory for an institution to “arrange/adopt security measures to the satisfactory level of the police and district administration”.

It states that thorough search of the whole premises, including classrooms, labs, washrooms, rooftops should be carried out on a daily basis before the entry of students and faculty in schools, colleges and universities.

Extensive vigilance be observed during the night time as well, so that miscreants may not enter and hide in the institutions. Security guards and police personnel should stand alert and vigilant all around the institutions, particularly at opening and closing hours.

As per the SOP, deployment of guards at barrier, search of vehicles and pedestrians and armed guards deployment at vantage points, including rooftops should be ensured.

Similarly, CCTV cameras system and generators/UPS should be provided for ensuring power supply for internal and external coverage of the premises.

However, head of the All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation, Kashif Mirza, on Sunday said schools will re-open only if the government takes back all cases against private schools. He said providing security was the state’s responsibility, adding that the government was harassing and intimidating school owners on the pretext of improved security.