Punjab to hand back control of four Christian schools to churches

By
Khalid Khattak
An outside view of the Govt Rang Mahal Christian High School in Lahore in this undated photo. — Facebook
An outside view of the Govt Rang Mahal Christian High School in Lahore in this undated photo. — Facebook

  • Four nationalised Christian schools to be handed back to church.
  • Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, USA, to take over.
  • Two are in Lahore, one each in Rawalpindi and Sialkot.


LAHORE: The Punjab Cabinet has approved handing over administrative control of four nationalised Christian schools in Punjab to the Catholic Church and Presbyterian Church, USA.

The cabinet gave the nod during its recent meeting, The News reported Wednesday. Two out of the four schools are situated in Lahore, while one each is in Rawalpindi and Sialkot.

Sources in the School Education Department (SED) Punjab said that administrative control of Govt Saint Francis High School, Anarkali Lahore would be handed back to the Catholic Church, while the rest of the three — 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.

Handing back Christian schools to the church missions was the last agenda item in the 52nd meeting of the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Punjab 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.

The Govt Saint Francis High School, Anarkali is said to be the oldest of the four schools established in 1842, while Govt Rang Mahal Christian High School was established in 1849, Government Christian Higher Secondary School Raja Bazar in 1856, and Govt Christian Girls High School, Haji Pura in 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 the property and infrastructure of the schools.

He said the department worked closely with the stakeholders to finalise the arrangements. The official added 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.

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 a 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 partnerships in the province through the Punjab Education Initiatives Management Authority (PEIMA).