PESHAWAR: The provincial government has not released funds specifically meant for adopting security measures at schools despite passing of over two months of the Army Public School attack, according to sources.
However, they said that a major chunk of the Rs2.557 billion fund, meant for enrolling out-of-school children and providing missing facilities to the government schools, was being utilised on security measures instead of the planned purpose. The elementary and secondary education department had released the money for providing missing facilities and minor repair work at the educational institutions, sources said.
The high-ups of the education department have instructed the administration of government schools to utilise the released Rs2.557 billion first on adopting security measures and spend the remaining amount on the planned arrangements of providing missing facilities or minor repair.
Sources said that an amount of Rs2 billion of the fund was meant for construction of additional classrooms, boundary wall and group latrine in the schools; electrification; and provision of drinking water to the students to enrol out-of-schools children.
Rs2.5bn were released by education dept for providing missing facilities at educational institutions
Similarly, Rs0.557 billion were released to the schools for minor repair and purchase of class consumable items, sources said.
In the mid-January, the provincial government had claimed that it released fund for providing security to the schools. However, later on it was learnt that the government didn’t release a separate fund for security rather it mentioned the earlier planned fund meant for providing basic facilities to schools.
Provincial Minister for Education Mohammad Atif Khan, when contacted, said that the department directed the administration of the schools to prioritise security in the utilisation of the released fund. “Additional classrooms and other facilities can be provided later on,” he said.
The minister said that education department required Rs2 billion for providing security to the schools as over 4,500 government schools were without boundary walls.
A summary requesting Rs2 billion was sent to chief minister for approval, he said, adding that education department was in consultation with the finance department in that regard.
“I hope that chief minister will agree to release the fund for the security of the schools,” the minister said.
A headmaster of a government high school told Dawn that he was interested in repairing science and computer laboratories in his school by utlising the fund. However, the released fund of Rs70,000 was utilised on raising the boundary wall and fixing razor wire on it, he said.
“Now I am unable to do minor repair in the school and whitewash the building,” he said.
The security guidelines issued by the education department to the schools include raising the height of the boundary wall up to 10 or 13 feet; fixing barbed wire on the wall; installation of close circuit television cameras and walkthrough gates, metal detectors and increasing the number of bodyguards etc.
The main reason of the dropout rate in the government schools was shortage of facilities, an educationist told Dawn.
For the first time, the education department released a huge amount of Rs 2 billion to ensure basic facilities in the schools to retain the enrolment and enrol out-of-school children, he said.
Published in Dawn February 16th , 2015