The local education department in collaboration with the police and a cellular services provider has introduced an institutional coordinated system to promptly react to possible emergency situations at schools.
Under the new security system, the cell service provider will issue special SIMs pre-fed with the numbers of all emergency departments to the heads of public and private education institutes, SHOs, superintendents and deputy superintendents of police to efficiently coordinate and respond to emergencies that may arise at schools from a possible sabotage activity.
The step is part of security efforts being made by the local authorities to response to emergency situations and secure educational institutions after the Army Public School Peshawar incident that claimed more than 150 lives.
The District Education Department and the Directorate of Colleges have directed the heads of institutes to purchase the Rs300 Ufone SIMs from their own school funds.
Under the new system, upon dialing *55#, in case of any emergency, a message and an SOS call will be received by the police and other authorities in the loop.
“The new system will help the police learn the location of any emergency and respond quickly,” Rawalpindi Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq told The Express Tribune.
The SIMs will be issued to the heads of 1,900 government schools and 3,000 private schools and colleges.
Haq said that the system, which has been put in place by the Information Technology Board, the police and the cellular company, would also be upgraded regularly.
Private institutes have been directed to provide their registration numbers or licences along with a form attested by a local SHO to get the SIMs.
Besides, a control room has also been set up at City Police Officer’s office by the cellular company for better coordination and quick response.
Investigations SSP Haroon Joya, who is supervising the process, said that in case of any emergency or panic, the SHOs, DSPs and SPs will get a message and an SOS call on their cell phones identifying the location of the institutes for quick response.
Teachers, however, suggested for better intelligence and overall security before taking such steps. They also said that the provincial authorities should first allocate funds for the programme.
“We have already paid from our pockets after school funds dried up to purchase CCTV cameras, guns, metal detectors and other equipment,” said Punjab Teachers’ Union General Secretary Rana Liaquat. He said that most school heads, who have paid from their pockets, have not yet been reimbursed.
He said that the authorities were just issuing SIMs but without allowing or giving them cell phones to insert the SIM. “On that particular SIM, the heads will neither receive nor make a call, but will only get their phones stuck with it,” he said.
The teachers also demanded that the provincial government released the remaining Rs40 million of the Rs80 million approved for construction of boundary walls and other security steps.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2015.