As a security measure, the Punjab government on Saturday announced it would extend winter vacations till January 12, however, whether or not private schools will follow suit remains up in the air.
Rawalpindi Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq confirmed to The Express Tribune, that a notification issued by the provincial government has directed all public and private schools in the city to remain closed till January 12.
Earlier, private schools were scheduled to open from January 2 and public schools were to resume from January 9.
In a stark contrast, Malik Abrar, the president of the federal private school and college owners association, stated on Saturday that they had not received any notification for the extension of winter vacations in private schools in the capital.
“There are chances that the federal government might extend vacations on Monday,” he said.
He expressed his displeasure over the government’s decision to extend vacations saying that it cannot be considered the best possible solution.
“Such steps are adversely affecting the education system and also working
in favour of terrorists who want the education sector of the country to suffer,” he said.
He further stated that the extension will consequently affect the academic year, which was already disturbed in August due to the PTI and PAT sit-ins in the capital.
“This also gives rise to a sense of insecurity in the minds of students and parents,” he added, urging the government to think of alternative ways to secure education institutes.
Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) and Bahria University are among the universities that will remain closed till further orders are issued by the government, sources in the varsities said.
A QAU official, on the condition of anonymity said that university staff will resume work from Monday, but academic activities will remain suspended indefinitely.
SSP Asmatullah Junejo said there was no such plan to extend winter vacations in capital schools. Meanwhile, he said, plans were afoot to reopen all universities in the capital on January 5.
“A few varsities are on the terrorists’ hit-list, but we asked all universities to shut down as a precaution,” he said.
On the security measures taken, he explained that the Islamabad administration has constituted an Education Squad to beef up security in schools and to create safety awareness among students.
The squad includes 20 senior police officials who will visit both private and public schools at morning assembly and final bell to provide security and train children on how to react in untoward situations, he elaborated.
Moreover, a Security and Vigilance Committee has been constituted at the local level, under which 4,000 young people will be recruited to keep watch over their areas and immediately inform the area police if they see any suspicious activity or people, said Junejo.
He said these young people will be under the age 22 and will work under the DSPs of their respective areas.
“They will also go to schools, parks, commercial areas and hospital to create awareness among public regarding safety measures,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2014.