Inadequate security leaves schools vulnerable to attack

Islamabad Model School for Girls, G-7/2 does not have a boundary wall. — Photo by Ishaque Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: While Islamabad police and Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) directed all school administrators on Wednesday to ensure security of students, there are over 50 schools in the federal capital which do not have boundary walls.

Following the attack on a school in Peshawar, FDE through an official letter told schools to deploy guards at the entrance gates and equip the guards with metal detectors to frisk visitors, keep gates closed and keep a record of private transporters who provide pick and drop service to students.

“We were asked to protect our students but I can’t do much when my school is open from almost all sides,” said a school principal, requesting not to be named.

Sources in the FDE told Dawn there were 52 schools in Islamabad where boundary walls have collapsed over the years but the department never bothered to reconstruct them.

FDE’s planning director Taj Bhatti confirmed this information and said that in February this year Departmental Developing Working Party (DDWP) approved Rs46.92 million for reconstruction of school boundary walls but later the government refused to release funds.

Rawalpindi authorities ask schools to make their own arrangements; 52 schools in the capital without boundary walls

“I agree that this is an important issue, but without funding we cannot start reconstruction,” he said.

While Rawalpindi administration and police failed to make security arrangements for public and private schools in the garrison city asking schools to make their own arrangements by deploying watchmen, fixing barbed wires and raising boundary walls of schools.

Panicked parents urged the authorities to protect their children.

“After the incident, we are concerned about security around schools especially those located on the main roads,” said Mohammad Asif, a resident of Peshawar Road.

Private Schools and College Association President Malik Abrar told Dawn some schools had already made security arrangements and watchmen had already been deployed at gates.

“We requested the local administration to give us armed licenses for security guards but the request was turned down,” he said.

Rawalpindi Schools and Colleges Management Association President Malik Naseem told Dawn that management at more than 110 private schools and colleges in cantonment area have made security arrangements but the government should also deploy policemen.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Zahid Saeed said administrators of educational institutions had been asked to issue identity cards to students and keep record of visitors especially at hostels.

He also directed the traffic police to make arrangements during school timings.

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