Some private schools reopen in Sindh, minister orders action against them

A security guard tells students that their school is closed by authorities to control possible spread of coronavirus, in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, March 14, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

KARACHI: “If you think educating children is a crime then arrest us because we are not going to back off from doing our duty now. We will also teach on the street if the government wouldn’t allow us to open our schools,” said Shakil Ahmed Khan of Iqra Academy Jannat-ul-Atfal after opening his school here on Monday.

There were the girls and boys in their gray, white and black uniforms wearing masks lining up at the bungalow school’s gate to have their hands and shoes sanitised followed by having their temperature checked by the school staff before being allowed to go inside.

“We all need to do away with fear and we all need to stand up for what we believe in. I salute the teachers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who stood up for what they believed in despite knowing the consequences. I am also getting phone calls to close the school immediately. I am also being threatened but I don’t care. I had promised my teachers, my students and their parents that we will reopen school after Aug 15 and here I am fulfilling my promise,” he added.

“Ordering us to keep schools closed is going against Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan. It is also going against Article 18 which allows us to freely carry on with our work or business to earn our living. If that is not possible then the government should pay compensation to us during the closure because we are all respectable citizens of Pakistan. We pay our taxes. But, sadly, here teachers are committing suicides and school owners are burning their schools out of frustration.”

Similar sentiments were aired all over by the other private schools owners, too, who dared to reopen their schools.

Later in the day, Sindh Minister for Education Saeed Ghani ordered strict action against the schools that had reopened. He directed officials to submit a report on the schools that had reopened so that the government can take action against them. “We will not allow anyone to play with the lives of our children or challenge the government’s writ,” the minister said. He added that the schools that reopened on Monday will now see their registrations cancelled.

Syed Tariq Shah, the chairperson of the All Private Schools Management Association, Sindh, said that the government has been “unfair” towards the schools. He said that his association with other private school associations will stage protests if the schools that reopened on Monday are not unsealed and allowed to reopen soon.