In 2010, I completed my university education, and thought time had come to join the journey of peace and safety. I was just 24. Though I had long time ahead, yet there was no reason to be late. In order to sow the seeds of love through teaching mathematics, I arrived in Khaipur. It was an extraordinary experience.
The Islamabad High Court, while rejecting the petition filed by Turkey’s Maarif Foundation, decreed that there was no meaning in the foundation’s demand for inclusion in the case as it was out of the question for such foreign structures to find in themselves any right to take over the [Pak-Turk] schools in Pakistan.
The school administration believes that the action is taken to appease Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who believes that the school promotes and teaches his arch-rival and cleric Fetullah Gulen’s teachings. “We have gone through the school curriculum during our time and have not found them imparting any extremism ideology or anything that goes against the interests of Pakistan,” said one of the graduates.
Justice Aamer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court on Friday disposed of a petition filed by Pak-Turk Educational Foundation against the possible handover of its schools to another Turkish educational network, the Maarif Foundation.
Renowned Scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand was the chief guest and distributed the certificates, plaques, and cash prizes among winners. Addressing the ceremony, Mubarakmand said that PakTurk International Schools and Colleges have been striving hard to provide quality education to the Pakistani youth since 1995.
Bilal, a parent, told media that the network consisted of 28 schools and colleges in 10 cities of the country with a staff strength of 1700 including 108 Turkish teachers, teaching around 12,000 students from pre-school to A level. Since 1995, he added, the schools have been giving quality education to Pakistani students with no political motivation or illegal activity.
“All the Turkish teachers and administrators have left Pakistan and the schools are being run by Pakistanis,” said one of the parents Syed Amir Abdullah. He added that the government still seemed hell bent on ruining these institutions by handing them over to an ‘infamous organisation’ which has no experience of running them.
Parents of students of Pak-Turk schools and colleges blasted the Pakistan government for handing over the education system to a Turkish nonprofit organization called Maarif Foundation. They said that the schools and colleges would suffer if handed-over to the “poorly-equipped and infamous” Maarif Foundation.
As many as 108 Turkish employees of the Pak Turk Schools, along with their families, have been in the United Nations’ protection after Pakistani authorities denied them an extension in their visas to work in the country. The applicants had told UNHCR they feared arrest, coercion and torture by the Erdogan government in Turkey in case the Pakistani government forcibly deported them to Istanbul.
At the heart of the matter is the question of Maa’rif’s credentials to take over the schools instead of its Pakistani management. Turkey is least known for its standard of education. Moreover, the Erdogan-backed organisation is neither experienced in the education field nor apolitical. The organisation is already scared with allegation of child sexually abuse in Turkey.
Amnesty South Asia Director Champa Patel: “With 24 million Pakistani children out of school, Pakistan’s decision to expel teachers from the Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges will only hurt Pakistan’s children. What the country needs is more classrooms and more teachers, not a politically-motivated decision to purge educators at the behest of the Turkish government.”
Mohammed Aqeel, 24, who attended the Peshawar school and now teaches there, called the visa cancellations “a shameful event” that had compromised Pakistan’s independence and damaged its educational standards. “There is no foreign ideology here,” he said. “I love this school. It grooms us to be good human beings as well as students.”
The act of sending to Turkey over 400 Turkish citizens working and studying in the Pak-Turk International School system is highly condemnable. They have been living in Pakistan since 1995 and this is their home now. Their kids were born and brought up in Pakistan. It is heart-wrenching to see that they are suddenly being treated like terrorists.