Parents in a pickle as govt, private schools reach agreement but many institutes hold out | Pakistan Today

Parents in a pickle as govt, private schools reach agreement but many institutes hold out

Lahore Preschool, Learning Alliance, LGS, City School, Beaconhouse, National Grammar School and Kids Campus to stay closed on Monday

Punjab govt issues notification taking back FIRS against private schools for inadequate security

Most govt, private schools to reopen from today as committee formed to ensure school security

Most of the private and government schools across Punjab will reopen on Monday as talks between the government and All-Pakistan Private Schools’ Federation (APPSF) succeeded on Sunday and the Punjab government issued a notification taking back all FIRs registered against school administrations.

Administration of some of the private schools, however, announced that they would not open until they have ensured foolproof security of the schools.

Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashood met the delegation of All Pakistan Private Schools Federation and assured them that all necessary measures had been taken for schools to reopen.

After the meeting, Mashood told media personnel that all grievances of the private schools body had been addressed, adding that cases registered against schools on the basis of inadequate security would be taken back. The minister said that a new standard operating procedure (SOP) had been issued regarding schools’ security. A committee had been formed to monitor the SOP’s implementation, he added.

“We are striving to introduce a strategy for the security of private schools and a committee has been set up for its implementation,” Mashhood told media personnel after his meeting with the association’s delegation.

A statement from All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) had said earlier that private schools would reopen across Punjab only if the provincial government met two key demands by the association.

“We have asked the government of Punjab to withdraw all the FIRs against private school owners and to provide security to all private schools across the province,” APPSF President Kashif Mirza said while announcing the ‘conditional’ offer after meeting Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood.

Last week on Tuesday, the government had announced the closure of all public and private schools in Punjab from Jan 26 to 31. While the EDO Education had said that 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, 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.

The SOP calls for extensive vigilance to be observed during nighttime 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.

On Saturday, the private schools’ federation announced that they would not open their institutes on Monday (February 1) since the government had put the onus for security entirely on schools, instead of shouldering the responsibility itself.

“The schools were ordered to stay closed on Monday amid confusion and uncertainty,” a statement from the private schools federation had said. “There was speculation as to whether schools were closed due to harsh weather or whether there was a security threat. The private schools’ heads and owners have since been harassed and intimidated by various government departments and law enforcement agencies. Several individuals from various government departments have been threatening to seal schools and register FIRs against the school heads and owners. Their demands vary from case to case and are not based on any consistent written guidelines,” the statement continued.

The statement underlined that the private schools would not re-open until the government fulfilled its duty and owned responsibility for the security.

THE HOLDOUTS:

Meanwhile, one group of private schools on Sunday refused to reopen from Monday. Lahore Preschool, Learning Alliance, LGS, City School, Beaconhouse, National Grammar School and Kids Campus are among the private schools that have announced that they would not open on Monday.

According to details, the group has decided to open schools only after fully ensuring foolproof security arrangements. The owners have also summoned a meeting into the matter.



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