LAHORE: The Punjab government’s notification calling for the closure of ‘illegally established’ private schools on 58 roads of the city has been dubbed a conspiracy against education by the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association (APPSMA).

The Punjab government had issued a notification SO (H-N) 5-2/81 to private schools, colleges and academies situated in Shadman, Iqbal town, Shah Jamal, Model Town, Township, Chungi Amar Sidhu, Gujjarpura and areas adjacent to Ferozepur Road and Canal Road, among others. The November 24, 2010 notification calls for the closure of the institutes because they had either been established illegally or were violating LDA laws.

Adeeb Jadwani (APPSMA president), Amjad Ali (general secretary) and Kahif Adeeb (senior vice president), during a press conference at the Lahore Press Club, said that the claims that the institutes created hindrance in the smooth flow of traffic and caused nuisance for the area residents were nonsense.

“These schools have played an important role in imparting education,” said Jadwani, adding that the notification will affect “millions of students”.

“They will no longer be able to get education. People living in the locality could easily pick and drop their children. We consider this to be a conspiracy against the children and education itself,” Jadwani said.
The association president warned of country-wide protests if the decision was not withdrawn. The office bearer added that “thousands” would be rendered jobless and “millions of children” would become unable to get quality education.

The APPSMA members told reporters that the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) had steadily increased the commercialisation fee over the years. The irritated office bearers said that they paid a commercialisation fee equal to six per cent of the land value. “Since 2008, there has been a steady increase of 1.5 per cent every year in the fee,” they said.

“Not only has the LDA kept on increasing the fee, the DCO has also re-evaluated the land value, doubling it. Schools cannot pay such exorbitant amounts of money. Shortly afterwards we started receiving notifications, almost every other day, to shut down the educational institutes,” Jadwani added.

The association president said that the association would take the matter to court if the LDA tried to force the schools to relocate. Abu Bakar Naseem (Punjab organisation president) had his own solution to suggest, “If the LDA has a problem with the traffic, they should do something about it. Shutting down schools and putting people out of jobs and education is not the answer.”

When contacted, Sohail Janjua, the LDA spokesperson denied any knowledge of the notification.