Peshawar: With the Turkish government urging Pakistan to close down schools and colleges funded by the alleged mastermind of Turkey’s failed July coup, parents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have asked the provincial government to clarify the schools’ fate.
During an official visit to Islamabad on August 3rd, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu asked authorities in Pakistan to close the chain of schools run by alleged coup leader Fethullah Gulen.
In a joint press conference with Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Cavusoglu accused the Gulen network of “causing risk and threat to the security and stability of every country that they have presence in.”
Zahir Shah, whose two children study in the PakTurk International School in Hayatabad, said the news that the schools may be closed has shocked parents.
“We are satisfied with the school as it delivers standard education and provides every facility to children,” Shah told News Lens.
He said the parents knew nothing of the school network’s association with any group or a person in Turkey. “We just want good education for our children and the PakTurk School is the best for them.”
The government should address parents’ concern by officially clarifying whether the school system would stay or go, Shah said.
“We need to know now so that we can make a timely decision about our children’s future.”
According to PakTurk International School and College official website, more than 10,000 students are enrolled in the 28 schools and colleges.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two PakTurk International schools have been operational since 1990 in Hayatabad and Shaheen towns in Peshawar. The number of students at the two schools is 600, with around 70 teaching and non-teaching staff, according to teacher Mudassir Shah in the senior section of PakTurk International in Hayatabad.
The teacher said Pakistan government would never close the PakTurk International schools and colleges because most of the students in these schools come from political and military families.
“The parents should not worry because the government would resolve the issue soon,” said Mudassir Shah. “We have heard that the Turkish government is trying to find a positive solution to avoid closure of schools.”
However, in a petition to the Islamabad High Court, the PakTurk Education Foundation asked the court “not to transfer the management, accounts and title of the schools and institutions” to the government of Turkey or any other association.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Muhammad Atif Khan said his ministry had not received any directives from the federal government whether to keep or close PakTurk International schools and colleges.
“The final decision on this rests with the federal government and we would follow that,” said Khan.
He said the parents should not worry because government would find the “best alternative solution” before deciding to close these schools.
The management of PakTurk International schools and colleges in Pakistan has posted a clarification on its website saying the education institutions were a “philanthropic and non-political endeavor in the country, organized and established for human development.”
The schools and colleges, said the post, were being managed by a local non-profit company registered with the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan according to laws of the country.
However, the Turkish newspaper Sabah said the charity that managed PakTurk International schools and colleges in Pakistan was registered as a non-government organization. The agreement to establish these schools was made between the Economic Affairs Division of Pakistan and the PakTurk International Education Foundation.
It said the PakTurk International Education Foundation was registered in the Republic of Turkey under the Charity Act. If the organization’s registration was cancelled by Turkish authorities, said the paper, it would no longer be able to operate legally in Pakistan.