RAWALPINDI: The provincial government has approved Rs80 million for government schools lacking boundary walls in Rawalpindi to enhance security.
According to the data collected by the District Education Department, as many as 304 schools across the district either lack boundary walls or are in a deplorable state.
Out of the total, 166 schools for girls lacking boundary walls, mostly in rural areas of the district, are a cause of great concern for teachers and students because of the security risk they present.
The funds are expected to be released to the district government by January 15, but the provincial government has directed the district coordination officer to immediately initiate work.
The district education department will allocate separate funds for the purchase of barbed wire to be installed around every school in the district. The department has also made proper uniforms mandatory for watchmen.
Education Executive District Officer (EDO) Qazi Zahoorul Haq on Thursday presided over a meeting of the heads of all of the district’s government schools.
During the meeting, the EDO directed the heads to arrange CCTV cameras and metal detectors from their respective Farogh-e-Taleem Fund (FTF) monies.
Some heads however, complained of facing shortage of funds to buy the equipment. They explained that the schools collect only Rs20 from each student per year, and there were some schools where the total strength of students was under 120.
“The EDO has asked the headmasters who could not put together the amounts from their own funds to let him know of this,” a school head said on condition of anonymity. He opined that the government should bear the cost of equipment.
Headmasters also demanded that a body should be set up to monitor the security arrangements of schools across the district to ensure the steps are not just stop-gap fixes.
The heads were also directed to allocate a separate room or area where parents could meet their children. “The entry of ‘random’ people should be strictly banned as the nation cannot afford another Peshawar-like tragedy,” Haq directed all the heads.
“Lack of boundary walls not only affect educational activities but also pose a severe threat to students’ lives,” said Hamid Ali Shah, the district president of Punjab Teachers Union. He said funds should have been released much earlier, “But we are in the habit of taking steps after a tragedy takes place.”
Talking to The Express Tribune, EDO Haq said that the construction of boundary walls will be initiated soon. “There is no room for negligence… efforts will be made to complete the task as soon as possible”.
On FTF monies, he said that the government provides each primary school with Rs20,000, middle schools with Rs50,000, and high schools with Rs80,000.
“Almost every school has enough funds to arrange CCTV cameras and other necessary equipment, but, if needed, the education department would support schools that lack funds,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2014.