A fresh round of talks between private school organisations and the Cantonment boards’ administration failed on the red notices issued to close down 8350 private educational institutions from residential areas of 42 cantonment boards across Pakistan including in Rawalpindi from December 31.
Following the cantonment boards, military state offices in Cantonment areas have also issued notices to all private schools within their boundaries to close down schools by December 31.
On the other hand, private educational institutions have decided not to close schools during the winter holidays to resist a move to seal them by the Cantonment boards.
All cantonment boards have announced that no private school will be allowed to open in Cantonment areas from January 1, 2022. Private schools will be fully sealed on December 31, the Cantonment boards have said.
Representatives of private school organisations have decided to spend 24 hours
in educational institutions on December 30 and December 31.
They have also announced a nationwide protest on December 16 and daily protests and sit-ins in all 42 Cantonment board areas from December 21.
It has been decided to hold sit-ins in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta from December 28 to December 31.
Given the ongoing tussle between private educational institutions and the Cantonment boards, a large number of parents have started enrolling their children in government schools.
Meanwhile, a large number of parents have decided not to send their children, especially girls, to schools at all after the closure of the private schools in Cantonment areas. A large number of children have already stopped going to schools in Cantonment areas.
Currently, 12 million children are out of school across. With the closure of schools in Cantonment areas, that number is expected to rise to 15 million. The closure of schools will render 350,000 teachers jobless.
Central President of All-Pakistan Private Schools Association Raja Ilyas and Divisional President Irfan Muzaffar Kayani, told The Express Tribune that there will be a nationwide strike on December 16 and they
will be on roads from December 21.
They said that on December 21, our petition will be heard in the High Court Rawalpindi bench and we expect relief from the court. They said that this is a very serious issue and the government should give us relief. We are ready to negotiate with any stakeholders at anytime, anywhere.
On December 7, the joint action committee of the All-Pakistan Private Schools Association staged a protest outside Rawalpindi and Chaklala cantonment boards against the eviction notices for closure of schools until December 31.
The teachers, students, owners of private schools, non-teaching staff, and parents took part in the protest march.
The demonstrators started to assemble outside Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB). As a result, traffic remained disrupted on Mall Road and in the Saddar bazaar for around two hours and ambulances also got stuck in the traffic jam.
The students and teachers chanted slogans in favour of the Pakistan Army and education as they marched on the Chakala Cantonment Board from the RCB.
The cantonment administration and police had planned to stop the march of protesters but they abstained from doing so owing to the presence of students and female teachers.
The JAC officials including convener Nasir Mehmood, Abrar Ahmed Khan, Amjad Zaib, Chaudhry Tayyab and others said that they should be provided with an alternative and only then they would close all private schools themselves.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2021.