The Executive District Officer (Education) made an announcement Monday midnight (January 25, 2016) that all the schools, public and private, throughout Punjab will remain closed till Jan 31 due to ‘severe cold’. Colleges and universities of the province however, were to remain open.
“Due to extreme cold and requests from parents, all public and private schools in Punjab will remain closed from Jan 26 to 31. It’s an urgent decision to protect the students from diseases due to extreme cold,” Dawn quoted EDO Education Pervaiz Akhtar as saying.
The order was implemented by the provincial government the next day, making sure that no school violates the decision. Despite of the claim by the Punjab government that the decision was taken on request from parents, owners of private schools resented the decision. They held the view that winter vacations had already been given in the last days of December and there was no need to give more holidays.
The parents were also confused when they took their children to schools, only to witness the closed gates of the schools.
Despite of the claim by the provincial government, many security analysts say that the decision was made in the wake of severe terrorist threats to educational institutes rather than ‘extreme cold’. It is also noteworthy however, that how did EDO Education come to know about ‘severe cold’ only in the midnight?
The Punjab Government has dismissed the rumors that there are any terrorist threats to schools while at the same time it is desperately trying to provide unchallenged security to schools. Moreover, the schools are directed by the provincial government to have necessary security measures.
The speculations are further strengthened by the statement of Federal Minister of Interior that Punjab government should not have closed the schools amid security concerns.
It should be noted too that the decision has been taken after terrorists attacked Bacha Khan University in Charsaddha, killing 21 including students and professors.
Similar measures were also taken throughout the country when Taliban stormed an army-run school in Peshawar in Dec 2014, brutally executing 144 including minors and their teachers.