LAHORE - Many schools are yet to finalise the security arrangements as per the prescribed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in the Punjab province where the authorities have announced the reopening of educational institutions on Monday.

The Nation learnt from reliable sources on Saturday that heavy police contingents would be deployed around the elite public schools in Lahore while the private and public schools located in the low-income neighbourhoods are asked to adopt proper security measures on their own.

The Quick Response Force (QRF) - a well-trained wing of the Punjab police - has been tasked to provide security cover to the educational institutions. “The (QRF) commandoes will remain on their toes during the school timing. In case of any untoward incident, they will respond as quickly as possible,” a top police officer told this reporter.

Similarly, well-equipped policemen riding on gun-fitted vehicles would patrol around the leading educational institutions to keep a vigilant eye on the activities of the miscreants. “We are not satisfied with the security arrangements. We are told by the top cops that they could not deploy policemen around each private school,” says Adeeb Javedani, a leading educationist and President of the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association.

Talking to this reporter, he further said that the watchmen and security guards of the private schools were not trained enough to fight against the terrorists. “This is the basic responsibility of the government to provide protection to the lives and property of the public,” he said. But the private schools were asked ensure security on their own, he added.

“This is absolutely unfair. At least, there should be proper police patrolling around all the educational institutions,” he further said. To a question, he said that only five per cent schools belonged to political elite and most of the small schools, operating in the low-income neighbourhoods, were unable to afford hiring of professional security guards.

“We are going to reopen the schools on Monday despite security-related problems,” he said in a tension.

More than 348 schools located in Lahore are declared sensitive and at least 23 are declared as most sensitive, official sources said. Provincial Minister for Education Rana Mashood on Saturday said that schools would reopen across the Punjab province on January 12. “We will take strict legal action against the schools which failed to adopt security measures as per the SOP,” the minister told reporters while addressing a news conference lately.

He also said that the National Cadets Corps (NCC) training would be introduced in educational institutions. The process of lifting the walls of the school higher for security reasons was underway, he added. The minister said that the District Coordination Officers (DCOs) concerned would monitor the security situation of the schools on daily basis.

Keeping in view the security of educational institutions, Punjab police chief Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera has ordered the deployment of Quick Response Force (QRF) around educational institutions, a police spokesperson said on Saturday. The decision to this effect was taken after the audit of schools by a five-member security committee, which was constituted by the Punjab government to look into the security matters for the schools, colleges and universities. The officials of the Quick Response Force will remain in touch with the administration and heads of all the educational institutions. All the regional police officers (RPOs) and district police officers (DPOs) are directed to remain in close contact with the administration of educational institutions to ensure proper security arrangements as per the SOP issued by the Punjab government. According to the SOP, height of the schools boundary walls must be 8 feet with two-feet-high barbed wires, CCTV cameras, and also maintaining the complete record of the schools’ workers, employees etc.

The police are reviewing the security arrangements at the schools, which are divided into three categories - A+, A, B for security purposes. The management of all the private and public schools is bound to take security measures as per the SOP. Complete boundary walls are made mandatory for every school in addition to metal detectors, security guard, security barriers, walkthrough gates and evacuation points.

The provincial government had extended the reopening of all the private and public schools from January 5 to 12 amid terror threats. Following the deadliest terror assault on an army-run public school in Peshawar, all the educational institutions were closed down.