All schools to remain closed on February 1st

LAHORE: On Sunday an announcement was made by Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood after a meeting of a delegation of All Pakistan Private Schools Federation which stated that the schools will reopen on Monday; February 1st. The confirmation of the announcement from schools came later as 12 schools decided to go against the decision.

On Sunday, Rana Mashood stated that all the concerns and grievances of the private schools body had been taken into consideration and addressed in the meeting. Rana Mashood also stated that cases registered against schools on the base of insufficient security will be taken back.

Announcement to keep the schools and all their branches closed was given by Beacon House, LGS, City School, Lacas and eight other institutes.

Last week on Tuesday, an announcement was made by the government which stated that all the public and private schools will stay closed from a 26 to 31.

While the rumors had flown in that the decision to close, all the schools came due to “extreme cold weather,” sources, on the other hand, stated that the government was not satisfied with many security arrangements of many of the schools for.

After two days, around 12 schools were sealed in Lahore and cases were registered against 23 schools for inadequate security arrangements for the students of the campuses.

Punjab Home Department had ordered the administration of educational institutes all over Punjab to follow the required security measures after the terrorist attack on the Bacha Khan University, Charsadda. The school administrations were asked to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) concerning security.

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

The SOP also states that thorough search of the whole premises should be conducted which would also include classrooms, labs, washrooms, rooftops should be carried out on a daily basis before the entry of students and faculty in schools, colleges and universities.

It is also advised and ordered that broad alertness should be observed during the night time as well so that the militants cannot enter and hide in the premises of the institution. All the guards and police personnel should be at shunning to their duties and must stay alert all the time in the institute more importantly at the time of pack up and opening.

The SOP further indicates that deployment of guards at barrier must be ensured, and search of vehicles and pedestrians and armed guards deployment at vantage points must be carried out further including rooftops should be ensured.

CCTV cameras system and generators/UPS must be available and provided to ensuring power supply for internal and external coverage of the premises.

On Sunday, The head of the All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation, Kashif Mirza, however, stated that schools will re-open only if the government takes back all cases against private schools.

He further stated that said providing security was the state’s responsibility and not the school administration’s. He also stated that the government was harassing and intimidating school owners on the pretext of improved security.