Teachers’ associations have expressed their disappointment at the security measures taken for the schools in the province.
The Punjab Teachers Union says the security plan was not comprehensive. PTU general secretary Rana Liaquat Ali says the government plan caters only to Category A schools. This leaves out more than 50 per cent of the primary and middle schools, he adds.
Category A includes schools that have previously received threats of a possible terrorist attack and have a student population of over 500, according to the Schools Education Department.
PTU general secretary also complained that headmasters were being threatened with disciplinary action for their failure to comply with the security plan even though no funds had been released to them for the purpose. “Some headmasters have spent out of their pockets or borrowed money to avoid action against them,” he said.
In a statement released on Sunday, the PTU had also accused the government of victimising some teachers. It said the officials were using failure to comply with the security plan as a pretext to settle old scores. The statement was released after services of two Lahore-based headmasters were surrendered to the SED secretary for their failure to comply with the plan.
The executive district officer (Education) rejected the charge. He said funds for enhancement of security measures had already been released to the schools through the deputy district officers as well as the school councils.
Meanwhile, SED deputy secretary (planning and budgets) Qaiser Rasheed claimed to have spent Rs1.96 billion on enhancing security arrangement across schools in the province. He denied that the government was ignoring some schools altogether. “So far, we have released funds to more than 4, 100 schools,” he said. Though all of these are Category A schools, security concerns at the remaining are being taken care of under various other schemes. “We are raising boundary walls at more than 14,000 schools through various government schemes for providing missing facilities,” he says. He adds that the walls were now up to eight feet high at these schools.
Rasheed says the government is working with private school owners as well to ensure that security arrangement at their premises are in accordance with the standards set in the plan adopted following the Peshawar attack.
In a statement last week, the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association had demanded financial assistance from the government for meeting the requirements of the plan. APPSMA president Adeeb Jawedani had said that the government should provide funds to the private schools if it wants them to enhance security arrangements in accordance with the new plan. “Private schools can only provide nominal security on their own. They need financial assistance to make changes in accordance with the government’s plan,” he said.
The SED deputy secretary ruled out the possibility of security grant.
Under the new plan, schools are required to have the following facilities on their premises: Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, barbed wires atop their boundary walls, and metal detectors at all entrances. The plan also mandates teachers’ training in the newly-introduced security measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2015.