KHYBER: Most of the private schools in Landi Kotal and Jamrud tehsils of Khyber tribal district have reopened last week, though for limited duration, despite an official ban.

Parents and students told this scribe that they received text massages and telephone calls from private school managements about the reopening of the institutions, albeit clandestinely, few days ago.

They said that middle and high level classes started on Wednesday during the previous week while the primary level classes were started on Saturday.

Samiullah, a parent, told this scribe in Landi Kotal the management told him by telephone on Thursday last to send his two sons on Saturday (August 22) to the school.

He said that he was further asked to send his two sons early by 7:30am with no uniform restrictions as the management wanted the students not to be noticed while coming to school and going back home.

DC Mehmud Aslam Wazir warns violators of action

Ziaullah, a 7th grader, told Dawn that the school timings were curtailed and they attended only three or four classes. He said that not all of his teachers were attending to their duty and only few of them attended classes.

The student said that none of his school mates and teachers was observing any safety measures and the school management also had not insisted on wearing of facemask or keeping social distancing.

“Our school management has not made any arrangement for frequent hand washing while the drinking water too is scarce”, he said.

In Jamrud too, a number of private schools have started their regular classes but with ‘open secrecy’ to avoid any disciplinary action against them.

Confirming that two of his schools had reopened, an owner in Landi Kotal requesting anonymity told Dawn that the private schools in Khyber were reopened in light of a joint decision announced by the provincial association of private schools for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that financial losses they had incurred during the five months of continuous closure of all private educational institutions compelled them to invite back their students to regular classes, though for limited timings and in a limited number.

“We have mutually made an arrangement to hold classes both in the morning and afternoon to avoid being noticed by the local administration,” he said.

He said that big private schools in main cities could afford to remain shut down for long time as they received regular monthly fee from students but none of the private schools in Khyber received monthly fee of a single month since the closure in March that compounded their financial miseries.

Wali Khan Shinwari, another private school owner, insisted that only those students were invited for classes who were aspiring to appear in the matriculation examinations to improve their grades. He denied holding of any regular classes.

Sources in Bara said that though no regular classes had started in any of the private schools there, yet some had invited applications for fresh admissions with limited number of students visiting the schools on daily basis.

District Education Officer Shaukat Ali did not responded to the telephone calls and SMS of this scribe to know his version on reopening of private schools.

Khan Azam, another official of education department in Jamrud, told Dawn that they had no authority over the private schools and could not take any action against them if they violated any official ban.

He said that the district administration and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Private Schools Regulatory Authority were empowered to initiate any disciplinary action against the private educational institutions.

Deputy Commissioner Mehmud Aslam Wazir, when contacted, said that administration would take action against the schools and no such violations would be tolerated.

“We will make sure that all educational institutions remain closed till September 15 as is notified by the federal and provincial governments. We will allow reopening once we receive an official notification to this effect,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2020

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