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PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police have started collection of data on educational institutions, especially their exact location, so that they and other relevant agencies could reach the spot in time in case of any emergency.

The step has been taken in the wake of the Dec 16 attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar.

A senior official in the Elementary and Secondary Education Department confirmed that directives had been issued to heads of all 28,500 public sector schools to visit the respective police stations and submit full information to the police about the schools.

“So far we have collected information about 16 schools located in the jurisdiction of our police station,” an official of the West Cantonment police station told Dawn. He said that police high-ups had circulated the message of collecting detailed information about the educational institutions.

Information about location of schools, staff, watchmen being collected

“We have also been asked to collect and keep the record of the exact location of each school in our jurisdiction so as to reach the school quickly in case of any attack or emergency situation,” he said.

The police official said that information from the schools was being collected through a three-page form available at each police station. The form also contains measures to be adopted by the schools for security of the children, he said.

The administration of each school is bound to provide information about the enrolled students, staff, classrooms, boundary walls, etc, the official said. “We also want to know whether the security guards at schools have any arms or not,” he said.

He said that all the private and government schools were strictly asked to deploy watchmen or security guards at the school buildings.

The senior official in the education department said that all the government schools had been asked to write the phone numbers of the nearest police stations at a visible place in the schools. “The school administrations have been asked to contact police immediately whenever they feel a threat or witness movement of suspected people in the area,” he said.

It is not possible for the government to deploy police at all the 28,500 government schools because it would need to double the strength of the existing police force in case a single constable is to be deployed at each school, he said. “Also, will it be possible for a single constable to counter well-equipped militants,” he questioned.

An expert on security requesting anonymity told this correspondent that when terrorists could carry out attack on the APS in the cantonment area, how such attacks could be thwarted in the far-off areas where unarmed watchmen had been deployed for the protection of government schools.

The Higher Education Department had also issued security guidelines to the public sector universities and colleges a few days ago with the direction not to reopen the institutions at the end of the ongoing winter vacation unless they adopted proper security measures.

The HED has also asked the administration of the higher educational institutions to hold meetings with the respective district police officer and district administration in order to ensure security of the institutions prior their reopening after winter vacation.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2014