LAHORE: The Punjab Cabinet in its recent meeting formally approved handing over of administrative control of four nationalised Church schools in Punjab to Catholic Church and Presbyterian Church, USA.
Of these, two schools are situated in Lahore and one each in Rawalpindi and Sialkot districts.
Sources in the School Education Department (SED) Punjab said that administrative control of the Govt Saint Francis High School, Anarkali Lahore would be handed back to the Catholic Church while rest of the three including Govt Rang Mahal Christian High School, Lahore, Govt Christian Higher Secondary School, Raja Bazar Rawalpindi and Govt Christian Girls High School, Haji Pura Sialkot would be handed back to the Presbyterian Church, USA.
It is pertinent to mention here that handing back of Christian schools to the church missions was the last agenda item in the 52nd meeting of the cabinet meeting chaired by CM Usman Buzdar on March 21.
The sources in the Schools Department further said that in the past many mission schools, which were nationalised during the 1970s, were handed back but no consensus could be developed over these four and other nationalised schools. They said that besides consistent demand, there had been litigation over the issue as well in the past over some of the four schools but no final arrangements could be made.
It is pertinent to mention here that Govt Saint Francis High School, Anarkali is said to be the oldest of the four schools established in 1842, Govt Rang Mahal Christian High School, 1849, Government Christian Higher Secondary School Raja Bazar, 1856 and Govt Christian Girls High School, Haji Pura 1857. A senior official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that only administrative control of these four schools would be handed over to the schools without any claim over property and infrastructure of the schools. He said the department worked closely with the stakeholders to finalise the arrangements. The official said that over 4,000 public schools were already being operated under public private partnerships in Punjab. “There is no harm if church missions can run these four schools successfully”, he said and claimed that some CARE Foundation-adopted schools had improved their performance over the years.
To a question the official said that the missions would be independent to manage administrative affairs of the schools and could hire new teachers. He added as per the agreement government teachers in these schools would continue to get salary from the public exchequer while new teachers hired would be compensated by the missions. When contacted, Secretary Schools Punjab Ghulam Farid said that only administrative control of the four schools would be handed over to the Church missions. He said that it was a suitable solution as many public schools were already being operated under public-private partnership in the province through the Punjab Education Initiatives Management Authority (PEIMA).