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October 6, 2015

SHC dissatisfied with report on schools’ security


October 6, 2015

The Sindh High Court directed the education secretary on Monday to file a detailed report on the security of schools in the province, expressing dissatisfaction with an education department report.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education Research and others seeking effective protection for educational institutions across the province.
The petitioners said that after the December 16 terror attack on Army Pubic School in Peshawar that killed over 130 students and staffers, the educational institutions across the country were under threat of similar attacks by banned organisations.
They said that as per intelligence reports published in the media, welfare schools run by communities in Karachi were at high risk. They added that some private institutions and schools had also complained of receiving threats.
They said Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Islamabad Capital Territory had formulated standard operating procedures and directed the school administrations to adopt measures, including raising boundary walls topped with razor wire, and installing CCTV cameras. However, they said, nothing had been done to promulgate such SOPs in Sindh, where the authorities had put the responsibility of educational institutions’ protection either on the school managements or on the parents.
The court was asked to direct the government to provide foolproof security to the educational institutions in the province and declare that VIP security to politicians and ministers without reasonable classification was discriminatory and unlawful.
The petitioners also filed a contempt application submitting that the court had ordered the education authorities to conduct a survey of all schools, pinpointing which of them were more vulnerable. Besides, the court had directed them to see whether the burden of such additional security had been passed onto the parents of students.
However, they said, no such

report had been filed but in an attempt to misguide the court, and the so-called report that was filed was without a survey of the schools.
The applicants submitted that perusal of the so-called report clearly showed that no compliance with the courts’ two orders had been done because no survey had been conducted and no information submitted regarding whether the burden of the additional security had been passed onto the children.
“Most of the attached documents also only pertain to private schools and not government schools,” the applicants highlighted, adding that therefore it was obvious that the so-report was a deliberate attempt to subvert the court and disregard its orders.
The special education secretary informed the court that the government had allocated Rs7,636.09 million funds for the security of schools while the survey results of 18 districts had been received.
A division bench expressed dissatisfaction over the progress with regard to the security of schools, and observed that several private schools had increased tuition fees in the name of security but no steps had been taken for the security of the schools.
The court inquired the education representative as to who would monitor the budget allocated for the security of the schools. It directed the education department to submit a detailed report on the security of the school at the next date of hearing.
The education department had informed the court that it had sent PC-I for security and raising and constructing compound walls of 8,417 schools of the province at an estimated cost of Rs7,636.09 million.
The additional education secretary submitted that PC-Is were considered by the technical committee of planning and development department and it was decided that the education department may prepare projects for areas which were declared sensitive by the home department in the first phase.
The education officer mentioned that the decisions of the planning and development department were sent to the deputy commissioners for giving priority to those projects.
For ensuring security to private schools, the additional secretary submitted that instructions containing special security measures to face any untoward situation in schools and colleges were sent to the institutions concerned.
He said a proforma containing security and safety measures were also sent to educational instituitions and many of the institutions assured the authorities that the proposed security measures were being implemented.

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