The Army Public School (APS) is all set to reopen on Monday (today) after a 26-day break following the brutal massacre of 150 people, mostly schoolchildren, by terrorists last month.
As the school tries to bury the past and look ahead, parents appear to have mixed feelings about sending their children back to school.
While some parents are unfazed by security concerns, others have voiced reservations about sending their children to a school which was recently attacked by militants.
Muhammad Tufail Khattak, father of 15-year-old Sher Shah who died in the APS massacre, has not decided whether to send his only surviving son to APS or not.
“I am still in a state of shock,” he said. “I am afraid to send my other son, Ahmad Shah, back to school”.
According to Khattak, he is uncertain about the security measures implemented at the school and cannot take the risk of losing another child.
“I asked my son if he wants to go to school,” Khattak said. “He does not want to go back as most of his friends died in the attack and he thinks he will be completely alone.”
However, Muhammad Iqbal, father of Humayun Iqbal who also perished that day, is more than willing to send his children back. “This attack will not prevent my other children from going to school,” he said. “It is very difficult to cope with the loss of your child. But we cannot be discouraged by such incidents and stop our children from going to school.” According to Iqbal, his other two sons, Usman and Bashir, will continue their studies in APS.
Books and pens
Speaking to The Express Tribune on Sunday, Usman said the attack has changed his perspective on education. A seventh grade student at the school, he was never particularly interested in his studies. “But after the incident, I am enthusiastic to go back,” he said. “I can’t wait to return to school to attend my classes and meet my friends.”
Although he survived the attack, his older brother fell victim to the militants’ gun on December 16. “Ever since that day, I am not afraid of anything,” he said. “I will continue to go to school. After I complete my studies, I will join Pakistan Army and avenge the death of my brother and friends.”
Many other students are also eager to return to school and resume their studies. Ahsan, an eighth-grader who was shot thrice by the terrorists, is also not afraid to go back. “No one can restrain us from getting education,” he said.
Zobia Murtaza, a grade two student, is determined to go back even though she lost her older brother, Muhammad Mohsin Murtaza, in the massacre. “My uniform has been ironed and my school bag is ready,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2015.