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Lahore schools harassment scandal: Action can’t be taken without written complaint, says minister

Top Story

July 4, 2020

LAHORE: Punjab School Education Minister Dr Murad Raas has said that parents of the students who faced harassment in Lahore Grammar Schools (LGS) and other schools should come forward and submit written complaints so that the government could take action against such schools and all those involved.

Addressing a press conference here Thursday, the minister said the School Education Department (SED) Punjab could not take action on social media posts and added action could be taken on written complaints for which people need to trust the government and come forward so that other students could be protected in future. He said the department would not disclose their identity and would ensure complete confidentiality as it was a sensitive matter. He said the department was looking at all legal angles vis-à-vis action against private schools for harassment cases.

The minister said the government would soon introduce new legislation for private schools which would cover issues such as harassment and bullying at schools and under which the schools and all those involved would face severe punishment, including closure of schools and imprisonment for those involved. He asked private all-girls schools should hire only female teachers.

The minister said he had received numerous complaints telephonically about harassment at LGS and many other schools and such complaints were received even against all-boys schools. He, however, reiterated that parents and families should think of other students as well and come forward with written complaints so that action could be taken against such private schools and their teachers. He said the victims were under extreme pressure and many had not even shared the details with their parents. Dr Murad Raas said that parents should boycott schools where harassment issues were not taken seriously by the management. About LGS, he said he could not comprehend as to how the school principal and owners were unaware of the harassment cases. He said LGS, though now, terminated some teachers and other employees but earlier the management did not take up the complaints seriously.

The minister while showing photographs of LGS teachers involved in harassment mentioned their names in the press conference and said these people if they had not committed any mistake as to why they removed everything from their social media accounts. He mentioned the names of LGS teachers and employees involved in harassment, including Aitzaz Rehman Sheikh, Omer Sharif, Zahid Iqbal, Bashir Khattak teacher, Zahid Warraich and Shahzad Arshad. He further mentioned the names of Maira Omair Rana and Masooma saying none of these people should be hired by any school; otherwise, strict action would be taken. He also mentioned the name of Miss Nudrat Aleem of LGS saying she received numerous complaints from the students about harassment but she never acted.

Dr Murad Raas also requested Mrs Nighat Ali, director of LGS 1A1, not to close her eyes saying such harassment cases also took place in other branches of LGS. He requested the management of private schools not to fire teachers in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic saying many schools had fired teachers and discontinued fee support provided to kids of such teachers. He said the government was monitoring the situation and did not make any decision yet to reopen the schools as safety and health of children and their families were really important for the government.

About the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF), the minister said some influential people were calling from all over Pakistan to renew contracts of some employees that had been let go by PEF and added that he would not do so and nobody could pressurise him for this. He added over 20 employees of PEF had tested positive for Covid-19 owing to which only skeleton staff was performing duties at the office.