Around 70 percent of elite private schools in Punjab have inadequate security arrangements in place despite the government’s clear instructions in this regard, a government audit has revealed.
Following the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar in 2014, the government had not only divided the public and private schools into three different categories, but had also issued a foolproof security plan for these educational institutions to follow.
According to the plan, elite private institutions which charge hefty fees were included in Category A. Through this division, about 1,070 schools, colleges, and universities became a part of this category. These institutions were instructed to upgrade their security arrangements within the summer vacations. Just before the summer vacations ended, Special Branch personnel conducted a security audit in all of these 1070 institutions. The audit report revealed that government orders were not taken seriously and were not complied with.
Furthermore, as many as 1,024 institutions have not installed scanners, 429 have not installed bunkers while 172 have no concrete barriers placed in front of their entrances. In addition, 243 institutions have no zigzag outside, as many as 312 institutions have no security walkthrough gates, 404 have no night vision CCTV cameras and 9 have no CCTV cameras.
The audit also revealed that 68 institutions do not have trained security guards. Two institutions were found to have employed over age security personnel while three institutions did not have operational ammunition. Also, 60 institutions have no arrangements of a search light, six have weak boundary walls in addition to five which had no boundary wall at all. Furthermore, 12 institutions have no security posts, 14 have no barbed wire and four have no boundary wall around their academic blocks. Some 48 institutions were revealed to have no panic button available for emergency situations. Moreover, as many as 62 institutes have not conducted mock panic drills, as advised by the government.
The audit report concluded that if the government, as well as educational institutions, do not make the required effort to ensure security, fear of loss of lives is likely to escalate. This is due to the fact that since there is an ongoing operation against terrorism within the country, educational institutions are on the hit-list of terrorists.
A senior official of the Interior Ministry said that the failure of the institutions to upgrade security arrangements during the summer break poses a big challenge for the government.
A senior official of the education department said that elite private schools are beginning to operate outside the jurisdiction of the government. Despite fee hikes, these institutions fail to provide adequate security measures for the students and staff.
Based on the findings of the Special Branch report, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered the provincial inspector general of police, education department secretaries and the home secretary to take action against educational institutions that have failed to comply with government safety regulations.
However, a month has gone by, yet no action has been taken against these institutions so far.