Remaining private schools in Punjab reopen today after talks with govt

Source: Published in Education on Tuesday, February 02, 2016

LAHORE: After almost a week of confusion regarding security of schools and their reopening, several chains of schools in the province have announced to reopen their institutions on Tuesday (today) after the Punjab government assured them of redressing their grievances.

Under a new platform, the Pakistan Education Council (PEC), around 10 chains of private schools, said they had decided to reopen their campuses after Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood assured them of resolving the issues they had raised with him in a meeting here on Monday.

Mashhood said the primary responsibility of security of the children and schools rested with the Punjab government.

“A formal standing operating procedure (SOP) for governmental monitoring of school security will be put in place in consultation with private schools. The security SOP established by the government in Dec 2014 will be implemented by schools as there is no change in it. Private schools will not be closed during terms in the future without consultation with school management explaining the urgency/necessity for the proposed closure. No coercive measures will be taken against private schools without following proper processes and giving adequate notice as required by law,” the minister assured.

He said police officials would not be allowed to harass staff in the name of security or while going to schools.

A spokesman for PEC said it was now up to the government to step forward and take responsibility for the security of children.

“Our schools have done everything that was asked of them. It is now the government’s turn to fulfil its constitutional and moral responsibility of safeguarding our schools,” he added.

The PEC represents Beaconhouse group, including The Educators, Beaconhouse Newlands, TNS Beaconhouse; City School Network, including The Smart School; Lahore College of Arts and Sciences (Lacas); Lahore Grammar School, including LGS Landmark Schools; Learning Alliance, including Lahore Preschool; Punjab Group, including Allied Schools and Resource Academia; and the Salamat School System, including Salamat International Campus for Advanced Studies and Kids Kampus.

The All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation and All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association had announced reopening of private schools on board with them, in Punjab on Monday.

The Punjab government had ordered to close public and private schools in the province from Jan 26 to 31 due to “extreme cold weather”. Public and most private schools reopened on Monday but attendance in some private schools remained thin owing to confusion over opening and closure of schools.