The Supreme Court has ordered cantonment boards across Pakistan to allow private educational institutions to remain open in their respective areas, overturning its previous order to close all private schools in cantonment areas by the end of 2021.
The case was presented before a three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench headed by Justice Ijazul Hassan. Counsel for private education institutions Advocate Kalbe Hassan Shah argued for Cantt-area private schools and colleges to remain open, noting that more than 3.7 million children were enrolled in 8,300 private schools located in 42 cantonment boards across the country.
Parents and teachers assembled outside the court during the hearing on Wednesday, despite the rain and cold weather. Representing the parents, Advocate Hamid Khan informed the court that the original order had been determined without hearing testimony from schools or parents.
All Pakistan Private Schools Associate President Malik Ibrar Hussain had highlighted that the closure of thousands of schools would increase the drop out rate and increase the number of out of school children in the country. He said that the closure of the schools would negatively impact children’s’ educations.
In 2018, the SC headed by former chief justice Saqib Nisar had ordered the closure of all private institutions operating in the residential areas of cantonment boards by December 31, 2021. The cantonment boards had already begun sealing schools and issuing notices to vacate when the private schools and colleges association filed a review petition before the top court.