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Govt chalked out security plans for educational institutions

01 February, 2016

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PESHAWAR: While the federal and provincial governments are chalking out security plans for educational institutions after the terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University, Charsadda, schools in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the most vulnerable region, have been completely ignored.

Elaborate security measures are being adopted in the federal capital and four provinces to ensure safety of students, but amazingly security of schools in Fata has been entrusted to local tribes.

The authorities are also looking towards foreign donors to provide funds for the construction of boundary walls and provision of other basic facilities in the Fata schools. Officials admitted that over 80 per cent of educational institutions in the tribal region were without boundary walls and other allied facilities, including drinking water and toilets. Even girls’ schools don’t have the facilities, they said.

“Students of both the public and private educational institutions are exposed to threats and there is no plan to ensure security of schools especially in those areas which are close to the border with Afghanistan,” said an official.

Another official dealing with the security-related matters in Fata told reporers that law and order department at the civil secretariat, Fata, had prepared cosmetic Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the aftermath of terrorist attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar, on Dec 16, 2014.

He said that SOPs were issued to the political agents in tribal agencies and concerned deputy commissioners of six Frontier Regions to prepare security plan for educational institutions in their respective areas.

Under the SOPs, the political authorities have been directed to ask the local tribes to set up committees for the protection of schools in their areas. He said that officials of the political administrations would regularly visit schools.

“Basic requirement for safety of students is the construction of boundary walls. If a building is without a boundary wall then how the administration will ensure security of a school,” said the official. He said that teachers often took classes under trees in summer and in the sun in winter because of unavailability of required facilities.

The provincial governments have been taking precautionary measures to ensure security of public sector educational institutions. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has spent Rs10 billion on the provision of allied facilities in schools across the province during the last one year. The federal government as well as the Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan governments are also adopting security measures.

The KP government under the Sensitive and Vulnerable Establishments and Places (security) Act has also asked the private sector to improve security of schools by ensuring installation of CCTV cameras, deployment of security guards and increasing height of the boundary walls up to 10 feet.

Sources in the civil secretariat, Fata, said that a proposal was under consideration to seek donors’ assistance for provision of allied facilities in schools. They said that USAID would be approached through the United Nations Development Programme to provide grant for schools.

There are 5,572 educational institutions in Fata where around 574,512 students have been enrolled. Private sector has also made inroads in education sector in the tribal areas. Schools in the violence-ravaged region always remained the soft target for militants and around 1,500 institutions have been destroyed in militancy-related activities.

The government has allocated around Rs5 billion in the Annual Development Programme for Fata in 2015-16. It has placed ban on construction of new schools and focused on reconstruction of damaged buildings and improvement of existing facilities.

“The secretariat needs Rs7 billion immediately for provision of allied facilities,” said an official, adding that construction of boundary walls and other essential facilities was not possible in the available ADP. He said that the secretariat needed approximately Rs12 billion for provision of basic facilities in educational institutions in Fata.

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