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ISLAMABAD: The educational institutions in Islamabad have been asked by the capital police to prepare an evacuation plan for their students and faculty members in case of an emergency.

The step has been taken keeping in view the prevailing security situation in the country, a police officer told Dawn on the condition of anonymity. He said the police had offered assistance to the administrations of the educational institutions in preparing the evacuation plan. Some of the schools visited by a team of police were also told to make alterations in their buildings to facilitate the emergency evacuation plan, he added. In some of the institutions, there were no separate emergency exits.

After meeting the representatives of the institutes, separate standard operating procedures (SOPs) were prepared for the administrations, students and the security guards of the institutions.

According to the SOP, the administration of each institute would carry out an evacuation drill for the students, faculty members and staff every month. If the exercise is not possible every month, it should be arranged at least once in three months. The emergency exits should always remain clear.

Fire and emergency equipment should also be installed in the buildings and the students should be informed when there is an emergency. Besides, CCTV cameras should also be installed inside and outside the buildings.

Police instruct certain institutions to make alterations in their buildings

The walls of the school buildings should be raised up to eight feet on which barbed wire should be installed to further increase the height by about two feet.

The administration or the principal concerned should also brief the students and staff on the prevailing situation on a weekly basis. The school administrations were also asked to arrange lectures by religious scholars to educate the students on the differences between jihad and the acts of terrorism.

The administrations will issue security cards to the students, teachers and guards and staff members. The ID cards would carry the photograph and the endorsement seal and monogram of the institute.

The educational institutions would have to get prior permission from the district administration before conducting any function or programme. Walk-through gates will also be installed at the entry gates where watchmen or guards will be deployed with metal detectors.

The drivers of the vehicles giving pick-and-drop service to the students should search their vehicles before allowing students to board. Carts, unconcerned vehicles and taxis should not be parked near the buildings.

The SOP for the students stated that they should not talk to anyone about the evacuation plan, emergency exit, the location of their schools or colleges, school timings and teachers.

They should wear their identity cards and inform the administration if they spot any suspect and suspicious activity around their institution.

The students should not make any contact with strangers and unconcerned people while going to school or returning home.

They should also avoid jumping the walls of their educational institutions.

The students should also ensure that no person should embark their vehicles along with them.

The students should also be asked to avoid going outside the school during halftime, and also not to assemble outside the building.

During free period, the students should also remain inside the classrooms and avoid going outside and gathering in the veranda, lawns and playgrounds. They should avoid discussing political, sectarian or religious issues.

The SOP for watchmen and guards stated that complete details should be obtained from visitors before getting permission from the administration to allow them entry, that too after physically searching them.

Women faculty members may be asked to search woman visitors. The watchmen or guards should know how to handle a weapon, and armed guards should not be given any other duty, including gatekeeping.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2014