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THE security threat has disrupted the education scene in the province and people are even more disturbed over the government’s response as it first ordered closure of educational institutions and then extended the ‘winter vacation’ till Jan 11.

Most parents, teachers and students say the government’s decision of closing the institutions reflects that it has panicked after the terrorist attack on innocent children at the Army Public School, Peshawar.

The stakeholders are waiting with their fingers crossed what will be the visible change in terms of security measures, when the schools and colleges will reopen.

The government has asked the educational institutions to step up security but people have become more and more skeptical about the law-enforcement agencies. “The order of raising boundary walls and installing barbed wires implies that the government cannot stop the terrorists from reaching institutions even in major cities,” a concerned parent said.

Another parent said the raised boundary walls and barbed wires would not only have psychological affect on children but also tax parents, who already feel financially burdened.

Teachers say the measures being asked by the government are just an eyewash because these can neither prevent terrorism nor natural disasters. They say the government has asked them to raise boundary walls, repair precarious walls and roofs, ensure personal tags showing name of school or house address for identification purposes and the evacuation plan for children. They say there are 2,600 public schools without boundary walls.

The teachers and parents demand that the government should enhance its capability and stop terrorists out of the cities instead of telling people to raise boundary walls. “If they can reach near schools, they can easily break in despite all security measures as was the case in Peshawar school,” a teacher said.

Educationists say the quality and continuity of education is being compromised. “The public sector is more under fire as schoolteachers are compelled to perform other government duties too besides teaching,” Punjab Teachers Union President Syed Sajjad Akbar Kazmi said.

The Islami Tehreek Tulaba, Pakistan, has rejected the government’s decision of extending the winter vacation due to security threats. Tehreek leaders Ghulam Abbas Siddiqui, Shahid Nazir and others say the government is wasting students’ precious time by not performing its duty of protecting lives and property of the citizens.

They say the government should re-start the educational activities immediately.

The All-Pakistan Private Schools Management Association has rejected the government’s decision of extending winter vacation and announced that it would re-open its member institutions on Jan 3 as per previous government decision. APPSMA President Adeeb Javedani says the government’s decision has created fear among teachers and parents in the wake of terrorist threat.

He says the government should provide security to educational institutions and citizens, which is its fundamental duty.

Mr Javedani regrets that the schools open only for 146 days in a year and the extended vacation will ruin the educational activities.

THE Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) has entered into partnership with 1-Link to provide financial services to its students.

Through this agreement, the LUMS students will be able to pay their fees through any 1-Link member bank’s Alternate Delivery Channels (mobile banking, internet banking, ATMs, IVR and Call Centers).

This is the first time an educational institution in the country has partnered with 1-Link, Pakistan’s largest interbank payment system, in order to maximise the convenience available to their students.

This facility will also reduce delays and late fees caused by bank holidays as the fees can be paid from any convenient location any time of the day and any day of the week.–

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2014