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A laudable suggestion

January 14, 2013

IN the ever-rising wave of terrorism, individual tragedies are either forgotten or do not get the attention they deserve. Does anybody care, for instance, about the education of children whose parents fall victim to terror? Thousands of civilians have been killed and crippled in the acts of terrorism that have become Pakistan’s scourge. But there is no government plan in action or on the anvil with regard to the victims’ families. Who, we ask, will pay for the education of children whose fathers were blown to bits by terrorists or left maimed and unable to work? In the case of the armed forces, paramilitary units and the police, medical and financial cover is provided by the departments concerned. But in the case of the sons and daughters of those murdered by terrorists, no plan exists. Because of the low standard of education associated with government-run schools, even families not necessarily affluent manage, though with great difficulty, to send their children to private schools. But if a tragedy befalls them, such families have no means with which to manage their children’s education in institutions of their choice. In such a situation, the families may be forced to send children to madressahs most of which do not give a modern education to students.

Against this background, it is encouraging to note that a positive suggestion made by Jamil Yusuf was accepted by representatives of private schools and others at a steering committee meeting of the Sindh government’s education department on Friday. The former chief of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee suggested that private schools should provide free education to the children rendered orphans because of terrorism. That the government and civil society have taken no notice of this tragedy till now is indeed a matter of shame. The government’s handling of the terrorist threat leaves much to be desired, and for that reason it deserves flak for its acts of omission and commission. But what is absent in the criticism is a sense of anguish for the hardships the bereaved families suffer. We hope private schools will implement the suggestion in all seriousness.