FAISALABAD: School trips organised by private schools are going on unchecked by the Education Department.
In 2011, the Education Department had issued a regulatory notification in this regard. School administrations were required to seek permission from the Education Departments before taking students on trips. Fitness certificates for buses were required among other things before permission was granted. The notification followed the September 26 incident in Kalar Kahar where 29 students were killed when a bus skidded due to a mechanical failure and fell into a ravine.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a private school principal who wished to remain unnamed said schools had been unable for a while to send students on tours because the Education Department officers did not grant permission for them. “The process became very complicated and dozens of permit requests were denied. Education Department officers asked for bribes before they allowed it.” He said some private schools had then devised a mechanism to dodge “unnecessary obstacles.”
“School administrations maintain contacts in the Education Department. If our buses are stopped for checking, we call our contacts in the department who then facilitate us and let the trip continue without a permit,” he said. He said the contacts often required bribes.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Regional Transport Authority Secretary Asif Naul said, “We are required to check buses and issue fitness certificates before they are allowed to take passengers. The department has had a strict policy against those found operating vehicles without such certificates.”
He said the authority was not empowered to permit school tours. “When schools seek fitness certificates for their vehicles, we check the buses and give clearance,” he said.
District Education Officer Bashir Zahid Goraya said he was not aware of study tours being organised without permission from the department.
“We take this issue very seriously. There is a prescribed procedure for obtaining a permit for such trips. It must be followed to the letter.” “If a school or college is found to have organised using commercial vehicles without obtaining NOCs, we will take action against them.”
He said the department had not received complaints regarding study on account of faulty transport vehicles.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2015.