Islamabad - The representative of private schools have decided to protest the decision of city managers to evict the schools functioning in residential buildings as negotiations are still under way with no breakthrough in sight.

In the first phase, the principals of private schools in urban areas will protest on Saturday at D-Chowk and in the next phase they may bring over 100,000 students and 40,000 staff along with them if the city administration brings about any amicable solution, said the representatives at press conference yesterday.

The civic agency has been sealing commercial establishments in residential areas over nonconforming use while a large number of private schools are also functional in residential units. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on February 3 last caused panic and unrest among the school administrations when it issued notices to them, giving them a deadline of 15 days to evict residential buildings.

Although later the interior minister suspended the deadline and barred the eviction without an alternate plan, owners/representatives of private schools say they have not got any suspension notice yet and the sword of eviction still hangs over their head.

According to Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA), about 353 schools have been functional in urban areas and of them 303 are in residential buildings while 50 have been shifted to their purpose-built campuses. Of them over 280 are in urban areas. Many schools have been functioning without being registered with the regulator.

Private Schools Association Islamabad President Zafran Elahi said everywhere even in our neighbourhood India, schools and hospital facilities are provided at the doorstep but here the government is hell-bent to close down the functioning schools and they have no alternative plan to accommodate the enrolled students in them.

He said the students should not be disturbed when the academic sessions are about to end and annual exams are around the corner or else the situation may lead to widespread protests.

General Secretary Private Schools Association, Muhammad Anwar warned the government to abstain from any adverse action against schools. He said any such action would be tantamount to bring parents and students to streets like PIA employees.

The representatives of schools demanded of the government to amend bylaws of CDA and allow the private schools function.

Security concern in commercial areas, higher building rents, transportation issues and market atmosphere are not suitable for early and primary education, say the owners/ principals of the schools.

The low-cost private schools offering education up to higher secondary level will also be affected badly by the decision, whose representatives suggest that the government should allow them to share half of the plots allotted to government schools or new plots in every sector be allotted to them on concessional rates.

The elite schools have got land plots from the government but still they have been running their junior sections in residential areas but where would the low-cost schools shift their children who have been given no alternatives, said Dr Afzal Babar, President Private School Network.

Such haphazard shifting of all the schools at once will only create chaos, said Mehnaz Aziz, President Parwaan ECED - an early childhood education and development initiative by E9 countries - and Founding Director Children’s Global Network, Pakistan.

The schools should be given time to make arrangements first, she said, and then relocated after mapping school types and categorisation accordingly. “But Montessori and pre-primary sections should stay in the neighbourhoods.”