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RAWALPINDI: The education department, on Wednesday, handed over 59 primary schools to the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF), claiming that PEF would improve the standard of education of the schools.

The schools were chosen based on how they fared in the primary level fifth grade examinations. In the 59 schools, not a single student was reported to have passed the exam.

PEF was established under the Punjab Education Foundation Act 1991 as an autonomous statutory body, to encourage and promote education on a non-commercial and non-profit basis.

“PEF will give these schools to NGOs to run their affairs, but the funds will still be provided to these schools by the government,” Punjab Teachers Association Rawalpindi region president Ch Sagheer Alam told Dawn.

1,000 schools in the province have been handed over to PEF, number could increase depending on academic results

He said the provincial government was trying to get rid of educational institutes, and had already reduced them from 73,000 to 63,000 in the last year.

He said that this year, government educational institutions had been reduced to 53,000 and the government planned to have just 40,000 schools in the province.

“If schools reduced staff [the number of] teachers would also decrease and the government fires teachers as well,” he said. He added that teachers would soon come together and launch a movement against the reduction of staff.

“It’s very strange that teachers were busy with anti-polio, anti-dengue and other government drives for 10 months of the year, and the government still wanted results from them,” Mr Alam said.

As many as 59 in three tehsils of the Rawalpindi district, including 37 schools in Gujar Khan, 19 in Kalar Syedan and three in Rawalpindi were handed over to PEF.A total of 6,000 students are enrolled in these schools, and over 150 teachers are employed.

A senior official from the education department told Dawn that PEF would receive funding from the provincial government in order to run the schools.

“Rs500 per student will be charged from the provincial government, and school textbooks will be provided to students by the education department,” he said.

He said the school buildings would remain under government control, while PEF would be responsible for providing teachers. Security arrangements will also remain the responsibility of the government and the local administration.

Executive District Officer Education Qazi Zahoorul Haq told Dawn that the education department would give free books to students studying under the administrative contr4ol of PEF, and the government will provide PEF with funding to run the schools’ affairs.

He said that 1,000 schools in the province have been handed over to PEF, 59 of which are in Rawalpindi.

He confirmed that teachers from these schools will be accommodated at other institutions.

He said more schools may be handed over to PEF, depending on the results achieved by teachers.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2016