Punjab Government plans to train students fight terrorism

 Ghulam Dastageer
A hole blown into the wall of school building in terrorist attack. Photo by NewsLens / Ghulam Dastageer

Lahore: Punjab government, in the wake of Peshawar’s school attack, has decided to prepare students to counter terrorism by resuming scouting in schools and National Cadet Corps (NCC) Training, light military training, in colleges, Punjab Government officials told News Lens Pakistan.

National Cadet Corps (NCC) used to be a kind of military exercise in which students of colleges and universities would get trained in first aid activities, use of light weapons and to tackle war-like situation. It continued till 2002 when General Musharaff called it off.

“This workout was essential for both male and female under National Defense Service Law 1986. Pakistan and Israel are the two countries where this training is obligatory for women,” Mian Imran Masood, the former Punjab Education Minister told News Lens Pakistan. He said that the prime objective of the exercise was to establish second line of defense. Sometimes training about Civil Defense was also imparted to the students. The knowledge concerning heavy artillery was also part of a 40-day training course.

Punjab Education Minister while talking to News Lens Pakistan said that Punjab government has decided to train youth to face menace of terrorism at this crucial juncture of Pakistan’s history. “The civilian army could be very useful in war on terror. It would help build youth’s confidence to fight against the trained terrorists,” Mashood said.

Private education sector is also demanding NCC and Scout training for schools and colleges. Muzammil Iqbal Siddiqui, President of Progressive Private Schools Association, told News Lens Pakistan. “More than ten million students would be deprived of this training if government overlooked the private sector.” Siddiqui said though, private sector doesn’t acquire enough facilities for this training but a policy, at least, must be formulated.

At the moment, government is working to build Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for schools and colleges. “We are considering civil defense training, first aid activity, skills to deal with emergency situation and how to operate light weapons in the worst circumstances as mandatory measures,” said Mashood. “For this, we need gigantic financial resources for more than 700 colleges and much more if we take private sector on board. It means we will be providing facilities to around 3000 colleges only,” he added.

Special Secretary Higher Education Nayyar Iqbal told News Lens Pakistan that along with NCC, government was also considering to restart scouting courses in public and private schools. “Apparently it looks very difficult as a first step because there are more than eighty six thousands schools in private sector across the country, ” Iqbal said.

Some parents are not satisfied with this plan. They think it’s a non-serious solution to fight terrorism. Kashif Shahzad Chaudhry, Secretary General Punjab Teachers Association, told News Lens Pakistan. He said that some parents looked frightened. “It is natural on parents’ part because we have allied NCC training to combat terrorism. But our colleges’ administration is trying to address the concerns of parents,” he said.

Punjab government is also considering the idea of giving additional twenty marks to students who will be part of NCC training. This will help them get admission in graduation. It used to be a practice in the past too.

On the instructions of Punjab Home Department, police officers have started delivering lectures to students about tackling emergency situation. A Superintendent of Police in Lahore Asad Sarfraz Khan told News Lens Pakistan that senior police officers were visiting different colleges and universities to deliver lectures on security measures. “The college and university administration are being asked to start short courses i.e. training about emergency and first aid activity. The Departments of Civil Defense and Rescue (1122) have been instructed to help the administration conducting these short courses,” Khan added.




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