Islamabad: The terrorist attack on Army Public School (APS) Peshawar forced education authorities across the country to take stringent security measures for the safety of students. However, one year after the tragedy, the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) still remains unmoved.
Soon after the Dec 16, 2014, school attack, the FDE had decided to improve security in the 422 educational institutions in the federal capital.
However, many of the schools still have broken boundary walls which speak volume about the efficiency of the authorities concerned.
One year after APS attack, broken boundary walls around many schools yet to be rebuilt
“One year is sufficient to build hundreds of new schools but unfortunately there are schools in Islamabad whose broken boundary walls are yet to be rebuilt,” said an officer of the FDE who requested not to be named.
He blamed a lack of coordination between the FDE and the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) for the delay.
Islamabad police on Thursday alerted all education authorities to enhance the security of schools.
“I agree this project should have been completed in a few months,” Secretary CADD Khalid Hanif said. But without elaborating, he said due to various reasons the work was delayed. “Now, we are properly monitoring the project and hopefully it will be completed soon,” he said.
Initially, the FDE and CADD took three months to select a firm for raising the walls around 24 of the 54 schools that required proper boundary walls. The FDE and CADD officers in an unprecedented move also tried to get the project worth Rs180 million executed by the building department Rawalpindi.
However, the Public Work Department (PWD) challenged the decision which led to a tug of war after which PWD was given the contract.
“The first four months after the APS attack fell victim to red tape and sluggish approach of the FDE. Then, the PWD wasted time to complete the boundary walls of 24 institutions,” said a source in CADD. He said the entire project should have been completed in two months.
When contacted, Taj Bhatti, the director planning at FDE, said the boundary walls of 54 schools were to be constructed.
“In the past, we sought funding for all the 54 schools but the project could not get approval. After the APS attack, CADD released Rs180 million for 24 institutions, mostly boys colleges.” He said work on the project was either underway or had been completed in 19 schools but file work was to be done in the remaining five schools.
In reply to a question, he linked the construction of boundary walls in the 30 institutions with the provision of funds. “Whenever we get funds, we will start the work,” he said.
Sources said besides the 24 institutions, there were also schools whose boundary walls were not in accordance with the suggestions given by the police.
According to a standard operating procedure (SOP) prepared by the police, all schools should raise their boundary walls up to eight feet with two feet of razor wire atop. The schools were also asked to hire trained security guards.
However, except the installation of close circuit television (CCTV) cameras, which are functioning without any backup power system, no steps were taken in a large number of schools.
“Initially, few institutions had hired security guards but when the FDE didn’t release any special grant, they too relived the guards,” said the principal of a college on the condition of anonymity.