Back to school: With security checklist, Sindh govt hopes to make schools secure

Published: January 12, 2015
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Students of St Joseph’s Convent School arrive at the premises for their first day of school after the winter vacations. The vacations had been extended due to fear of terrorist attacks on schools in the wake of the Peshawar incident. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD AZEEM/EXPRESS

Students of St Joseph’s Convent School arrive at the premises for their first day of school after the winter vacations. The vacations had been extended due to fear of terrorist attacks on schools in the wake of the Peshawar incident. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD AZEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: To make sure that Sindh’s schools and educational institutions were following safety and security measures, the provincial education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro held a press conference at the Sindh Assembly on Monday.

“Today, our future is at stake. The school and students’ security is a sensitive issue as some people are trying to work against us and our ideology,” he said while explaining the security plans. “The Sindh government is not just focusing on public schools but is giving equal attention to private institutions, colleges and universities. He added that more than 150 schools in Karachi which did not have boundary walls will be provided with men and construction material to build walls and ensure a secure environment.

He claimed that it was impossible to forget incidents such as the Army Public School in Peshawar, adding that they had held several meetings to discuss what security measures will be taken.

The minister had been in a meeting the Karachi police chief earlier and claimed that law enforcers will be on duty from 7am till 1pm at 50 different places in the city that are considered to be under great threat. He said that they had asked parents to share responsiblity for the security of their children and work with the school administration.

The government had come up with a checklist of security measures which has been provided to schools. The list includes visitor’s registration, raising boundary walls and installing CCTV cameras.

“We have asked them to also compile a weekly or monthly timeline which will help give feedback on which school have followed the security measures,” said Khuhro. “The students are our responsibility. We can’t forget about them if the school administration doesn’t bear with us.”  The minister aslo announced to impose a ban on the use of mobile phones in schools. He said that students and teachers will not be allowed to use mobile phones during school hours.

CM visits schools

According to the chief minister (CM) of Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah, areas where public and private schools are  located have been declared as sensitive. These neighbourhoods, he added, will have special security arrangements.

This he said while talking to the media at St Michael’s Convent School on Boat Basin after visiting several schools in the area as they opened for the first time after a long winter vacation. “A comprehensive security plan has been developed for schools,” he said. “The police and Rangers will be patrolling schools and the students’ daily commute routes.” He added that some policemen in plainclothes will also be deployed in the area while CCTV cameras have already been installed.

The chief minister claimed that schools with low walls have been asked to raise their walls higher for security reasons. He said that the area’s police stations will keep a record of the staff at private schools and the school’s administration will have to cooperate with them.

The chief minister had a busy morning touring schools in Lyari, Saddar and Clifton.

These included the DCTO Government Secondary School Baghdadi, Saddar’s Army Public School and Links Grammar School in Clifton.

Students, teachers walk back into school

A majority of private schools and all public schools reopened on Monday after extended winter vacations, with a high attendance of students, teachers and non-teaching staff.

In compliance with the Sindh government’s directives, school administrations took strict security measures and many institutions did not even let the parents enter the premises.

“Even though I am not allowed to park the car near the school, it is satisfying to know that my daughter is studying at a school with a safe environment,” said Khalid Khan, who had come to pick his daughter from St Patrick’s Girls High School.

The police had placed barricades around a 300-metre distance from gate of the school managed by the Catholic Board of Education.

Board officials told The Express Tribune that except for a few institutions, including the Holy Trinity School, where the boundary walls were being raised, a majority of schools under the Catholic board had reopened on Monday.

Meanwhile, the two leading chains of private schools in the city, The City School and the Beaconhouse School System, decided to reopen their campuses on January 15.

“Security arrangements at some of our campuses, located mainly in Defence Housing Authority and Clifton are underway,” said an official associated with The City School’s department of inspection and quality assurance.

“Most schools that needed time to improve their security set up will resume classes from next Monday,” said the Sindh director of private school education, Mansoob Ahmed Siddiqui.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2015.

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