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December 6, 2018

Renovation under way in over 2,500 public schools, SHC told

Karachi

December 6, 2018

Renovation work on 2,630 government schools is under way, including construction of boundary walls and provision of other basic amenities, the school education secretary informed the Sindh High Court on Wednesday.

The information was shared during a hearing of a petition filed by the Pakistan Institute of Education and Research (Piler) seeking the court’s directives to the provincial authorities to boost security at educational institutes following the deaths of over 130 schoolchildren in a terrorist attack at the Army Public School, Peshawar in December 2014.

Piler had filed the petition in January 2015 seeking directives for the Sindh government to protect all educational institutes in the province to avoid a repetition of the terrorist attack. At a previous hearing, the SHC had directed the education and home departments to inform the court about measures regarding the implementation of the proposed action plan suggesting enhanced security measures be adopted by the government for all educational institutions.

The petitioner had submitted the proposed action plan and suggested that school security should be enhanced across the province. The court had directed the focal person to assist the court in getting the plan implemented.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Education Secretary Qazi Shahid Pervez submitted that out of 4,206 government schools, renovation work is under way in 2,630 schools across the province along with some additional construction to build more space and basic amenities. He requested time to submit a report at the next date of hearing. The petitioner’s counsel also sought time to submit a list of schools which have security hazards due to a lack of boundary walls.

An SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar asked the counsel to identify the location of the schools properly for the purpose of inspection and provide details to the education secretary.

The secretaries for school education and the home department had earlier filed comments highlighting security measures with regard to schools and other private educational institutions.

The education secretary said that out of 4,560 schools, a doable portfolio of 3,890 primary schools had been selected on the basis of their high enrolments of 998,22 students, and 670 post-primary schools having an enrolment of 246,780 students.

He said that this was flagship project for the rehabilitation and expansion of facilities providing a boundary wall, a washroom, etc., in which boundary walls in 2,411 schools would be constructed in this year and the rest of the schools would be taken up next year.

He said that under the Annual Development Programme 2016-17, 81 schools were selected for the construction of boundary walls and one scheme of the college education sector having 14 colleges were also taken up under the ADP-2016.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, the SHC directed the provincial law officer, revenue board and others to file comments on a petition against the appointment of private counsel in revenue related cases.

Petitioner Faiq Ali Jagirani said the Board of Revenue was appointing private counsel to represent revenue-related cases which was against the orders of the Supreme Court that had directed the government to not appoint private counsel in government cases.

He said that despite the availability of law officers at the advocate general office, who were being paid 25 per cent of the law department budget, the revenue department was engaging the services of private counsel which is also in negation of Article 140 and Rule 29 of the Sindh government business rules 1986. The petitioner requested the court to direct the government not to appoint private counsel in revenue-related cases.

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