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Karachi

January 11, 2015

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Schools expected to bear security expenses

Karachi
In view of the government directives to enhance security at educational institutions, school managements are set to spend huge amounts of money with no help from the authorities.
This has left parents and students worried as the schools will ultimately recover these costs from them.
Schools will reopen on Monday after prolonged winter vacations, which were extended in the wake of the tragic Peshawar attack.
After issuing a list of standard operating procedures for foolproof security at schools, the federal and provincial governments have decided to resume studies from next week. The school administrations have, however, not been given any financial assistance and barred from charging any special fee for the new heightened security measures.
With no proper record of schools, the actual number of schools in Karachi is unknown and figures are mainly based on schools registered with the examination boards only. There are around 2,000 government schools housed in 900 different buildings as the government has merged many public schools into one to avoid extra expenses. With most of the police stations already understaffed or deployed for VIP security, one can think how would police react to any emergency situations.
A few years ago, many prominent private schools had charged students for enhancing security, including raising the boundary walls. In reality, however, these surcharges were pocketed and nothing concrete was done for addressing security concerns.
In October 2009, educational institutions were provided SOPs recommending at least eight-foot-high boundary walls supported with barbed wires and installation of CCTV cameras.
The schools were also asked to take a number of precautionary measures. The instructions were hardly followed but it gave a chance to the managements to mint money from parents.
Private Schools Management Association (PSMA) Chairman Sharafuz Zaman said the SOPs were handed over to the school

managements by the Sindh directorate of private institutions, but the government did not realise that schools charging Rs400-500 in fees could not fulfil the instructions without financial aid. “We are against hiking fees or collecting special amounts for security purposes and if the government is not providing financial support, then they should make sure weapons are given to schools on 50 percent rates.”
Most schools under PSMA operate in dense localities and the outskirts, which are among the most sensitive areas with militants groups settled and operating from the nearby locations. Regular police patrols are necessary to monitor activities in the surroundings of schools, he added.
Zaman said there were over 17,000 schools with mushrooming unregistered schools, which were not part of any association or listed with any government departments. “It is necessary to launch a campaign to register those schools and provide them security.”
Syed Khalid Shah of the All Private Schools Management Association (Sindh) admitted that school managements would have to bear all expenses. He asked the government to waive off all commercial charges from schools so that the funds could be used for security arrangements. “Schools are paying social security charges, property taxes, taxes on billboards, EOBI, utility bills as well as all industrial taxes,” he said. “As the government is not paying a penny to schools then it must withdraw these taxes, otherwise it would be difficult to fulfil the SOPs in letter and spirit.”
Haider Ali of the PEAK Private Schools Management Association said the association had been following the SOPs issued by the government in the past and would include additional instructions in the latest list. “The government should provide security instruments like metal detectors, walkthrough gates, bulletproof vests and firearms.”
Shiraz Akram, who runs an association of schools in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, claimed that when he contacted the area SHO and inquired about the plans to provide security to schools, he was told that there were only 19 policemen at the station, of which seven were deployed at private banks.

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