Govt to introduce drug testing of school students

Published February 13, 2019
Minister says schools violating SC order on fee will be shut.— File
Minister says schools violating SC order on fee will be shut.— File

LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to introduce drug testing of students of all the public and private schools of the province whose reports will be shared with their parents. This is a part of a campaign that the government would launch against drug abuse in educational institutes.

The details were revealed by Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas during a press conference at the DGPR office here on Tuesday.

He said the government had chalked out a plan with the health department and the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) to carry out the campaign under which all the students would take the drug tests.

The minister said the government was receiving reports about the use of ice (slang for meth or crystal with crystal methamphetamine as its real name) in the schools and the department would visit all the schools and also getting affidavits from the chief executive officers (CEO) of the district education authorities (DEAs) about drug-free schools in their areas.

“As the authorities are getting affidavits from the CEOs, and if they found test of any child positive in school of the area of any CEO, action would be taken against him or her.”

Minister says schools violating SC order on fee will be shut

Mr Raas said the education ministry had also written to all the deputy commissioners of the province to close cigarette and betel leaf (Paan) shops within the 500 yard radius of any educational institute.

“We found that most of these shops were selling drugs to the students and are playing the role of facilitators,” he claimed.

Regarding the matter of private schools fee issue, the minister said they would implement the order of the Supreme Court and its deadline would end today (Feb 13) and 20pc fee would be refunded to the parents. He said the private schools which were charging more than Rs5,000 monthly fee would have to decrease it by 20pc fee on the added amount after Rs5,000. He said the government would cancel registration of such schools and shut them as would fail to implement the court order till April 12.

“The parents should submit their complaints on 0336-7251214 if any private school does not reimburse the additional amount to them. Such complaints would be resolved on an emergent basis.”

Mr Raas said the private school owners should ensure implementation of the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding deduction in the fee; otherwise, legal action would be taken against them.

Talking about other measures to improve education standard, the minister said, “The latest computer technology would be used to improve the student-teacher ratio in classrooms. This will greatly help improve the quality of education.”

He added under e-transfer policy, transfer of teachers would be made purely on merit and in a transparent manner and this initiative would help the authorities curb the mafia which used to take bribe in posting/transfer cases.

The minister claimed that for the first time in history of the country, schools education department was going to introduce teachers’ friendly e-transfer policy. He said a modern software would also be used for posting/transfer of teachers and that under transfer policy, initial relief would be provided to female teachers.

Mr Raas said the new educational year would start from April 1 whereas enrolment campaign would start on March 1. Similarly, summer vacation would start from June 1 till end on August 11.

Answering a query about the reshuffling of secretaries in school education department, he said the PTI government would not bear any person in the department who would not be ready to work speedily or found involved in malpractices.

It’s worth mentioning that during current government short tenure, five secretaries of the school education department were changed.

Deputy Commissioner Saleh Saeed said the Supreme Court orders would be implemented to provide relief to the parents and students and the schools which were not registered with the government would be got registered.

School Education Department Secretary Rana Abdul Qayyum were present there.

Later, provincial minister Murad Raas met with the parents of students getting education in the elite private schools. He heard their problems and assured them that their grievances would be addressed.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2019

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