LAHORE: The provincial government has announced that schools will remain closed from January 26 to January 31 in view of the extreme weather. Several parents The Express Tribune spoke to, however, said they suspected that schools had been closed over security threats. They said the announcement was made in a suspicious manner.
The decision was announced early morning on Tuesday (around 1210am) on the provincial government’s official Twitter page. The tweet read: “All public and private schools across the province will remain closed due to severe cold from January 26th to 31st #Punjab.”
Speaking to The Tribune, Maria Khan, a mother of two, expressed surprise at the timing of the announcement. “It’s the second instance of the government making such an announcement at around midnight. Why can the government not do this during the day?” she asked. Khan said save for social media and cell phone messaging service there was no way school managements could have informed the parents about the closure. She said it took an hour for the management at her child’s school to make an announcement on their FaceBook page.
Mubashir Hayat, another parent, said that it seemed that the government was not taking the education sector very seriously. Or, he said, there was must be some serious security concerns. He suggested that the government should ensure that such decisions were communicated to the parents in a timely manner.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Education Minister Rana Mashhood dispelled the impression that schools had been closed over a security threat. He said the decision was taken in view of the extreme weather conditions. He said attendance at schools had been low for a few days.
He said that the government had decided to announce future dates for summer and winter holidays in consultation with the Metrological Department and education institutes.
Mashhood said the government was monitoring security arrangements at education institutes. Schools found violating the standard operating procedures regarding security would be closed down, he said.
In a directive issued to town administrators, Lahore DCO Capt (r) Muhammad Usman said that closure of schools in their jurisdiction should be ensured.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2016.