The Punjab School Education Department (SED) is under fire for its rapid push towards privatizing 350 government schools in the Rawalpindi division, despite facing staunch opposition from teachers’ associations. This privatization initiative encompasses all assets, including valuable properties, playgrounds, and well-equipped laboratories, collectively estimated to be worth billions of rupees. As these public schools transition into private sector control, the government will relinquish its direct authority over them entirely.

This controversial decision has reportedly been communicated to authorities in four districts within the Rawalpindi division, namely Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal, and Jhelum. Additionally, a total of 1,000 A-class high schools, serving both girls and boys across Punjab, including those in the Rawalpindi division, are earmarked for transfer to ‘Muslim Hands,’ a non-profit organization. The list of schools slated for handover to this NGO has already been prepared.

In response to these developments, several prominent teachers’ associations, including the Punjab Headmasters Association, Punjab Teachers Union, Educators Association, Punjab SES Association, and All Pakistan Clerks Association, have strongly opposed this move. They have announced plans for protests and rallies, emphasizing that policy decisions of this magnitude should be subject to legislative action. Given the absence of the Punjab Assembly, they argue that such decisions should not be hastily implemented.

Shahid Mubarak, a central leader of the Punjab Teachers Union, went a step further, suggesting a satirical alternative: rather than transferring government schools, the caretaker government itself should be handed over to ‘Muslim Hands.’ The privatization debate in Punjab remains contentious, sparking division and public debate over the best path forward.

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