LAHORE - There is a popular saying that actions speak louder than the words. A typical such action which speaks volumes about the Punjab government’s double standards on education is its Rs 60 million donation to Chandbagh School, an elite school founded by the late General Ghulam Jilani on the pattern of his alma mater, the Doon School in Dehradun, India, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Sources said it took only a day for the district government in Sheikhupura to pass the grant and hand the cheque over to the school administration. The school is near Muridkey and it has an independent private boarding school housing an entire community of students, teachers and their families, staff, servants and their dependents. The school charges a minimum Rs 60,000 per month from a student.
This elitism has left a big question mark on the Punjab government’s sincerity to provide education to all. Sources said at a time when thousands of schools in the province were without proper buildings, endowing an elite school was a waste of public funds. “In Sheikhupura district alone, hundreds of schools lack basic facilities and don’t even have seats for the children,” sources said. They said Chand Bagh School had enough resources to generate funds for itself and there was no need for the Punjab government or district government to provide the school with huge funding.
“There was no need to fund a school which is already taking huge fees and boarding charges from its students. Rather the school is for the rich not the poor,” said an official. “The education sector in Punjab is facing huge problems due to a lack of funds. Making matters worse, Danish Schools get a huge amount of money every year depriving the conventional school system of basic funding.”
The genesis of Chand Bagh School dates back to 1935-36 when the Doon School in Dehradun, India, opened its doors to the offspring of the elite. In 1985, on the 50th anniversary of the school, a number of the Doon School alumni in Pakistan better known as DOSCOS were invited to participate in the celebrations.
Later General Jilani, a Doon school alumnus, who was then Punjab governor, set up a similar institution in Pakistan. Sources said that General Jilani had cordial relations with the Sharif family and he was instrumental in the Sharifs’ joining politics. Sheikhupura District Coordination Officer (DCO) Mirza Abrar was not available for comment.