Protecting our children: Educational institutes put on high alert

Published: December 17, 2014
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"We have decided to install metal detectors and CCTV cameras and strictly bar the entrance of any irrelevant people," Rawalpindi Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq. STOCK IMAGE

"We have decided to install metal detectors and CCTV cameras and strictly bar the entrance of any irrelevant people," Rawalpindi Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq. STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD / RAWALPINDI: After a gristly terrorist attack at a school in Peshawar on Tuesday killed over 135 people, most of whom were schoolchildren, all educational institutes have been put on high alert and asked to take prompt measures for the security of pupil and staff.

In a letter, the Islamabad police have issued instructions to educational institutes to take precautionary steps, especially with school vans, as explosive devices could be attached to them. An official at an educational institute, requesting anonymity, said that the police had sent the letter a couple of days ago, but it was circulated again in light of the Peshawar massacre.

A police spokesperson said that ‘security was put on high alert’ following the incident. The officials, however, could not be reached despite several attempts.

Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq said he was going to hold a meeting with the heads of all educational institutions and will send reports to the education secretary about the security arrangements at Rawalpindi schools. “We cannot afford another tragedy,” he said.

The EDO said that there were CCTV cameras outside some schools but that was inadequate, adding that he would send district and assistant district officers to schools in rural areas of the district for their input in the final report. “At present, we have decided to install metal detectors and CCTV cameras and strictly bar the entrance of any irrelevant people.”

Haq said that the watchmen at every school have been directed to keep all the doors closed, remain vigilant and not to allow anyone inside the schools if they do not have a prior appointment. He said condolences references will be held in all schools on Wednesday (today).

While talking to The Express Tribune, the president of the private schools association in Rawalpindi, Ibrar Ahmad, said that the district government had issued warnings a couple of years ago and the association had placed barricades and installed CCTV cameras at some schools. “The steps proved to be temporary as cameras and barricades were removed soon after,” he said.

Aasif Khawaja, the Director General (DG) of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), said a meeting has been called to review security measures at the capital’s public schools and colleges. Private Educational Institutes Regulatory Authority Chairperson Chaudhry Imtiaz said that they have already issued security alerts and SOPs to all private institutes.

Meanwhile, traders will suspend business activities in Rawalpindi on Wednesday to express solidarity with the victims and their families. A spokesperson for the Rawalpindi traders association said the body has announced a complete shutdown, adding that funeral prayers will be held in absentia at 2pm in Raja Bazaar.

Kamran Abbasi, the president of the Small Traders and Small Industries Islamabad, said that markets in Islamabad will remain open on Wednesday, but traders will hold a peaceful protest against the brutal attack outside the press club at 3pm.

The Federal Government College Teachers Association strongly condemned the brutal killing of innocent students.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2014.

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