The Punjab School Education Department (SED) is facing backlash as it accelerates the privatization of 350 government schools in the Rawalpindi division, despite strong opposition from teachers’ associations. This privatization endeavor encompasses all assets, including buildings, playgrounds, and laboratories, estimated to be worth billions of rupees. Once these public schools fall under private sector control, the government will completely relinquish its direct authority over them.
Reports claim that this decision has been communicated to authorities in four districts within the Rawalpindi division, namely Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal, and Jhelum. Furthermore, a total of 1,000 A-class high schools for girls and boys across Punjab, including the Rawalpindi division, have been earmarked for transfer to ‘Muslim Hands,’ a non-profit organization. The list of schools set for handover to the NGO is already prepared.
In response, several prominent teachers’ associations, including the Punjab Headmasters Association, Punjab Teachers Union, Educators Association, Punjab SES Association, and All Pakistan Clerks Association, have vehemently opposed the move. They have announced plans for protests and rallies, arguing that policy decisions should require legislative action and, with the Punjab Assembly currently non-existent, such decisions should not be made.
Shahid Mubarak, central leader of the Punjab Teachers Union, even suggested a satirical alternative, proposing that instead of transferring government schools, the caretaker government itself should be handed over to ‘Muslim Hands.’ The privatization debate in Punjab continues to spark controversy and divide public opinion.