Security measures that every parent wants to see installed in Pakistani schools

Published: January 16, 2015
Email

Soldiers stand guard as children arrive with their parents at the Army Public School in Peshawar on January 12, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani soldiers stand guard as students leave. PHOTO: AFP Soldiers stand guard as children arrive with their parents at the Army Public School in Peshawar on January 12, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

The massacre at Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar changed our way of life, our approach towards educational institutes and our concern for the safety of our kids. The events of December 16, 2014 left some really ugly scars on the minds of our youth which will probably take decades to heal.

Such incidents provide a new dimension in terms of planning for personal safety and providing a safe future for the newer generation. By giving the duty of ‘chaperone’ to a sizable number of law enforcement officers to placate the rich, elite and VIPs of our country, our government has already drained out its resources. Therefore, it excused itself from providing adequate security to the thousands of schools that are privately managed.

The priority of the home department is to secure the politicians and government officials; due to this schools are left with limited to no resources. In such a grim situation, it is upon the school management and parents to utilise their personal resources to make security arrangements for their school-going-children. The management of the schools can take several steps to ensure safety and security on campus. Ideally, those educational institutes that can afford the following changes without government help should invest in these measures immediately, those that may be unable to afford such measures should approach the government for their help. These schools could start off by:

1. Deploying armed security guards with prior military experience

These men usually ask for salaries within the range of Rs20,000 to Rs30,000 per month. They should have proper documental proof of their service in the armed forces, a valid arms license in their name, all attested by relevant authorities.

2. Installing walk through gates and issuing metal detectors to security staff

These gates detect heavy objects, possibly a gun or a bomb, that one might be carrying and alert the staff as soon as a suspect walks pass through them.

3. Erecting barricades in front of the school wall

This prevents any attempt by a suicide bomber to explode a vehicle carrying heavy explosives. Even if they do try to attack, the damage will not be as extensive.

4. Installing barbed wires on the boundary walls of the school

This prevents any intruders from jumping inside the school perimeter.

5. Installing CCTV cameras, especially at entry and exit points of the school with proper weekly or monthly backup on a DVR

This helps the school management keep a check on visitors and maintaining records on a hard disk for future perusal.

6. Fire and safety drills

This needs to be done frequently in order to keep the staff and students trained at all times. The evacuation protocol should involve ringing of an emergency alarm and orderly evacuation of all the students lead by the prefects and monitors followed by the teaching and management staff. Also, fire extinguishers should be easily accessible and the staff should be trained on how to tackle a fire if the need ever arises.

7. First aid training for the staff and the students, and maintaining first aid equipment

Such sessions should be conducted on a regular basis in order to ensure presence of trained first emergency responders on campus. Similarly, the school should be well stocked with bandages, pain killers, ointments and other necessary first aid equipment.

8. Building a speedy communication network between the school management, parents and law enforcement agencies

This could be done by providing emergency contact numbers to some key staff members and they can maintain a link with the parents via SMS and a pool of helpline numbers.

In such chaotic times, parents need to be vigilant at all times. When dropping their kids to school, they should follow the traffic management plan provided to them by the school management, carry their ward’s ID cards when visiting the school and keep a check on their surroundings before leaving and entering their vehicle. Parents can also volunteer at the school for traffic management and be a part of parent-management think tank by suggesting measures to provide a safe and secure environment for the students.

We need to ensure community involvement to eradicate terrorism. If we work together and are on the same page in this fight against terrorism, these instigators of terror will find it difficult to execute their evil designs.

Arsalan Faruqi

Arsalan Faruqi

An entrepreneur with a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from IBA Karachi. He tweets as @arsalanfaruqi (twitter.com/arsalanfaruqi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.