Punjab schools (not) opening today!

LAHORE - Confusion persisted regarding opening of private schools today (Monday) because some of the leading school chains have not accepted yesterday’s agreement of the government and All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) for resumption of educational activities.
Following successful negotiations with the government team headed by Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, APPSF announced to open educational institutions from February 1.
Management of some schools however did not own the decision and conveyed the same to the parents through SMS yesterday evening.
“Dear parents all schools will remain closed on Monday (Feb 1) till further notice regardless of any report in the media”, reads an SMS sent to parents by one of the leading school chains. Similar messages were sent by another school chain to the parents.
Earlier in the day, after meeting the delegation of schools federation led by its President Kashif Mirza, Rana Mashood said that all grievances had been addressed and private schools would open on Monday (today).
He said that the government would immediately unseal the schools closed for improper security arrangements. He also said that FIRs registered against non-complying schools would be frozen and cases would be closed on completion of required security arrangements.
The minister also said that no action would be taken against any school on individual report of any official. Moreover, police officials would not visit schools and harass the staff in the name of security.
Federation President Kashif Mirza yesterday also confirmed to The Nation the decision of opening of schools.
“All schools will open on Monday as government has accepted our legitimate demands. A notification regarding withdrawal of cases has been issued. No case will be registered against any institution on such charges in future,” he said.
“We are already following SOPs issued in December 2014. We will only follow SOPs and not any other written or verbal security guideline of district administration or police”, Kashif Mirza added.
Management of St Anthony Lawrence Road Lahore has conveyed to the parents that the school and other missionary institutions would open on Monday.
The Punjab government had announced opening of schools on February 1 after weeklong special winter break from January 26 to 31. Government claimed that the decision to close schools was taken to save students from exposure to ‘severe cold wave’. Insiders, however, were of the view that improper security arrangements at schools amid grave terror threats was the real reason behind the government decision.
Closure of 12 schools and registration of FIRs against more than two dozen institutions for inadequate security also lend credence to this stance.
The schools federation however announced closing the educational institutes for indefinite period citing mistreatment of authorities despite their taking security measures to the satisfaction of district administration and police. They said that even those schools were forcibly closed and FIRs registered which were following the SOPs issued in December 2014.
The federation now says the schools would follow already issued SOPs and not the additional measures suggested by district administration or police. He said that schools lacked resources to provide the level of security demanded verbally by the district administration.
He was of the view that it was responsibility of the government to provide security to its citizens. He said that the government could not pass on the entire responsibility to the schools.

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