I’M one of the worried parents, watching the government and schools playing around with the so-called ‘security arrangements’ while the security of my kids is at stake. I wonder what makes even the top of the line schools networks believe that keeping a security manager solves the entire problem. My kids are enrolled in one of the largest and well-known chain of schools in Pakistan, but unfortunately, I don’t see a reasonable security plan in place to date. I’m both perturbed and petrified with the strange unprofessional attitude of the police and schools networks for whom placing three or four armed guards at the premises means “fully secured”. Unfortunately, I work for the security sector, so I am left aghast as at the way security agencies and organisations are only focusing on cosmetic arrangements when a well-planned methodology is the dire need of the hour.
Briefly the solution being adopted for securing the schools’ safety is by involving the police who, I agree, are supposed to spearhead the school safety campaign, but sadly is the most unsuited organisation for this purpose. Security is much more than “hiring and placing guards or a security manager”, who will be the first target for an intruder. I don’t see the fire drills, evacuation plans, lockdown drills and allocated hard zones (rehearsed and implemented) floor plans of schools to be handed over to emergency/resue services, bomb threat response, armed intrusion defensive manoeuvers, and escape routes.
Also the teachers need to be trained first. When it comes to managing children of junior level or pre-school, it becomes more complicated to handle these matters effectively. “Having one solution that fits every situation without thinking through” is a dangerous idea. The layout and construction of all schools is different from one another, hence separate but carefully chalked out plans are required.
I request the authorities concerned to be more professional in dealing with this threat.
Ijaz Ahmed Qaiser
THE Punjab education minister has recently disclosed that schools have been asked to adopt extra security measures in view of the expected threats from terrorists all over Pakistan (Jan 3).
I suggest that the three provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Khayber Pakhtunkhwa , as well as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and all federal institutions should chalk out standard operating procedure, as prepared by the Punjab government, and implement these on a war footing.
All students must also be vigilant in schools and while using the transport. One focal staff member should be trained through civil defence. The staff should then impart training to the rest of staff members.
All entry points must be installed with barriers so that easy access by intruders can be checked. The transport used by teachers and students must not stop in front of entry points as it could be vulnerable.
All education ministers should adopt guides as being implemented in Punjab.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2015